KARACHI -  Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif yesterday said the government’s focus on expansion of motorways network across the country had realised the dream of a developed and prosperous Pakistan.

He said this while inaugurating one of the first highway sections of his government’s planned Rs 1,200 billion spending plan on roads intended to expand trade and speed up economic growth.

The country is embarking on the biggest road-building programme in its history, he said, adding projects worth Rs 1,200 billion were under way. “After the completion of these projects, the total length of new motorways will reach 2,000km,” he added.

 “Today, the people are witnessing the emergence of a new Pakistan with improved infrastructure and communication network, and we have given reality to this dream,” said the prime minister while addressing the inauguration of 75-km-long section of Karachi-Hyderabad Motorway.

He said economy of a country depended a lot on comprehensive road network. He regretted those who travelled in routine through chartered aircraft were most critical of construction of motorways and roads.

“Such people have no realisation about the importance of roads for common people, including farmers, workers and students who daily travel through roads for jobs or education,” he said.

The premier said motorways were a lifeline to the country’s economy and were significant in enhancing the national unity by reducing the distances among people belonging to different parts of the country.

He said his government was completely focusing on its agenda of development and progress, paying no heed to the negative politicking around.

“Building the nation is no way a child’s play and requires utmost dedication and hard work, which we are delivering,” he said.

Nawaz Sharif said, “The people of Pakistan can well distinguish between the dedicated and selfless leaders and those who have wasted time of the nation by impeding development through protests.”

He said the country would have a six-lane motorway from Karachi to Peshawar by 2019, boosting the national economy and generating millions of new jobs.

Primer Sharif said it was vital to make the communications links across the country better to help take the country forward as the pace of development cannot reach remote areas of the country without a good quality road network.

He said over 60 percent work on the project was completed, while work was going on the remaining sections, including the service roads, interchanges and other infrastructure.

The prime minister said people of Pakistan were now witnessing the real creation of new Pakistan and said it was nothing but fulfillment of all the promises made by him in 2013.

He said it was vital to turn around the economy to provide new employment opportunities to the youth, who are at the risk of being used by extremist elements.

He said international financial organisations have spoken in unison about the remarkable turnaround; the Karachi Stock Exchange had amazed the world. He said only those countries made progress which had a sound communication infrastructure.

Prime Minister Sharif said thousands of people were today getting jobs on the projects related to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), while their number would multiply once the project was completed.

The prime minister appreciated Lt-Gen Muhammad Afzal, Frontier Works Organisation DG and the NHA for their hard work and completion of the assigned tasks earlier than the stipulated time.

He said he had an aerial view of the completed section and said it was at par with any international road.

Sharif said his government’s primary focus was on development in Balochistan and said Gwadar would be one of the best ports in the world. He said with the completion of the Gwadar – Quetta section of M-8 Motorway – it was now possible to travel from one location to another in half the day.

He said today all provinces were being connected to others through multiple road corridors, reducing travel time, with huge savings on fuel and costs.

He said Pakistan’s communication network was changing as apart from motorways, four-lane highways were being built in different areas of the country.

He said dualisation of 126-km-long Jamshoro–Sehwan Sharif road would be done, adding the federal government would fund the project for the people of Sindh.

Talking about power generation, the PM said 10,000MW of electricity would be added to the national grid this year and would rise to 30,000MW by next few years, adding there was zero loadshedding for the industries and soon power outages would be a thing of the past.

He affirmed electricity was now being generated at half the cost through LNG, coal, hydel, wind and solar power. He said Diamer-Bhasha dam would help meet the future energy and water needs of the country. Sharif expressed the hope that work on Thar coal project was also going on at a fast pace.

Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) Director General Lt-Gen Muhammad Afzal said the project was the toughest in FWO’s history as heavy traffic of 30,000 to 40,000 vehicles daily plied on this section during the construction work.

He said 136-kilometre-long road was the country’s lifeline and hub of economic prosperity due to its proximity with Kemari Port.

The distance between Karachi and Hyderabad is not much, but the state of the roads linking the two cities adds hours to the journey besides posing a threat to commuters. Construction of the M-9 motorway started in 2015; with a cost of Rs 36 billion the six-lane 136-km-long M-9 motorway with four interchanges will link Karachi and Hyderabad.

The four interchanges, Dadabhai, Industrial Valley, Nooriabad and Thana Bola Khan will help connect Tharparkar, Jimphir, Keenjhar and other areas as well, he asserted.