LAHORE - Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said that Pakistan needs a long march at this stage for progress and prosperity of the country, end to terrorism, loadshedding, poverty and corruption.

Addressing a press conference on Thursday, he said his recent visit to China was a part of this long march. He claimed all the people, including children, mothers, sons, daughters and elderly persons, would stand as a rock against the sit-ins and long marches which aimed at hampering the process of national development and prosperity.

Shahbaz Sharif said a long march only for the development of the country and prosperity of its 180 million people was required at present. He recalled China had also held a long march and its achievements had astonished the world. He said enlightened and patriotic people of the country would reject the long marches and sit-ins which aimed at impeding the ongoing process of prosperity. He said a long march should be aimed at regaining the lost status of the country. “Those who committed corruption during their tenure had no right enough to talk of revolution. Who committed a robbery of Rs 70 billion at the Punjab Bank and who was in power at that time?” he questioned.

Shahbaz Sharif said the present government wrote a new history by completing Metro bus project with Rs 30 billion in a short period of 11 months, but it was termed a ‘Jangla Bus’ by some elements while some others exaggerated that its cost was Rs 70 billion.

The chief minister said a number of flyovers, bridges and other development projects had been completed in a transparent manner during his six-year rule in the province. He claimed no one could prove corruption of even a single penny against his government. Contrary to this, corrupt elements and those who had been enjoying a luxurious life and pleasant weather abroad were talking of revolution and sit-ins.

In reply to a question, the chief minister said no one could think of a civil war, adding determination of 180 million people of the country would foil any such conspiracy. He said the present government had not raised hollow slogans during its tenure, but took practical measures for the people’s welfare.

Shahbaz Sharif said public service was top priority in a democratic system and it was aimed at solving the people’s problems at their doorsteps. He said Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metro bus service would start operating on December 25 this year while foundation-stone of Metro bus project in Multan, to be completed in 10 months, would be laid on August 14. Similarly, he said, darkness of loadshedding would soon be removed from the country. He said continuous efforts, hard work and honesty were essential for changing the destiny of the nation while those creating doubts and playing with the future of the country were doing no service to the nation. The CM said the PML-N government was committed to the service and welfare of the masses and was not afraid of unfavourable conditions. He reiterated Pakistan would be made a respectable and dignified country in the comity of nations in the next few years, which would be a fitting reply to those who were calling it a hub of terrorism.

Replying to another question, he said the PML-N had no objection to reducing tenure of the government from five years to four years if there was a consensus. Answering yet another question, the chief minister said Pakistan should not accept aid; instead, it should try to stand on its own feet. He averred investors were making investment in the projects being set up with the cooperation of China. He said China was making investment of billions of dollars in Pakistan and that too at a time when it had waged a war on terrorism. He said Chinese cooperation in the projects of billions of dollars reflected deep ties of friendship. He revealed that Nandipur Power Project had been closed temporarily for shifting it to cheaper fuel and this process would be completed in a few weeks, after which the turbine would again start producing electricity.

Shahbaz Sharif asserted the projects of Pak-China Economic Corridor were linked to economic development and energy projects were on the top of the list. He claimed his recent visit to China was very successful. Besides holding negotiations with the political leadership, his meetings with the high-ups of financial institutions and banks were very positive, he said, adding China had reiterated its full cooperation with Pakistan.

The CM said that China was indeed an equal partner in the progress of Pakistan. He disclosed that Multan-Sukkar section of Karachi-Lahore Motorway would be constructed with the cooperation of China. Similarly, he said, Gowadar project was of vital importance in the region and an international airport would also be set up in the area.

Shahbaz Sharif revealed a meeting of energy working groups of China and Pakistan would be held on August 4 while a meeting of a joint commission would also be held in the same month to take final decisions regarding the projects. He pointed out that energy sector had been on the top of his agenda during his visit to China and it was a matter of satisfaction that Chinese leadership and the government had expressed full confidence in the leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and transparency of the PML-N regime.

Shahbaz Sharif expressed the hope that most of the projects would be completed by 2017-18.

Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal, Punjab Minister for Law and Education Rana Mashhood Ahmed Khan and Parliamentary Secretary for Information Rana Muhammad Arshad were also present on the occasion.