KHANEWAL/TOBA TEK SINGH - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif yesterday performed the groundbreaking of 65-kilometer-long Shorkot-Khanewal section of M-4 Motorway, which would be completed at a cost of about Rs 22 billion in two years.

Addressing the ground-breaking ceremony, Nawaz Sharif said, “We are not working for a particular class, but for the entire nation. The common man will benefit from the mega projects started by the government. The nation is out of the state of despondency and treading the path of hope now,” Nawaz said. Reduced distances would boost the economy, he added.

Lauding the efforts of all those involved in development projects across the country, the premier claimed, “No one in the world calls Pakistan a failed state anymore.”

After its completion, the project would improve Pakistan’s vital north-south road network, promote economic growth, create employment opportunities and ensure regional connectivity. He disclosed 65-km Khanewal-Shorkot section of M-4 Motorway had been divided into two portions, 31km Shorkot-Deenpur and 34km Deenpur-Khanewal. Asian Development Bank and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank had contributed funding through co-financing for the project, the PM said. He claimed they had reduced its total cost from Rs 26.5 billion to Rs 22 billion, saving Rs 4.5 billion of the nation.

The prime minister disclosed that five interchanges, Shorkot, Deenpur, Makhdoompur Pahoran, Kabirwala and Khanewal, would be the part of Shorkot-Khanewal section to be constructed at four lanes, adding Khanewal interchange was already functional. The PM said a few months ago, he had inaugurated 58-km-long Khanewal-Multan section.

Nawaz Sharif said total distance of M-4 was 240km while two sections of M-4, Faisalabad-Gojra and Khanewal-Multan, were already functional and the people were enjoying safe and easy journey. He said these initiatives did not start from here, but from China’s boundary, adding the road network would reach Karachi and Gwadar as well. “No new motorway was made during 16 years as none of the previous governments had such a vision for the country,” he said.

Nawaz lauded his government’s efforts to strengthen infrastructure of the country and said first time in the country’s history a network of roads was set up in this region. The prime minister said till 2018, there would be no loadshedding in Pakistan. Nawaz did not spare the opposition in his address and said, “Serious politics is not done from containers; it is not a one-day or Test match.”

Punjab Governor Rafique Rajwana, Chinese Ambassador Sunwei Dong, Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed, NHA Chairman Shahid Ashraf Tarar, Local MNAs, MPAs, other political figures, and representatives of district as well as federal government were also present on this occasion.

The NHA chairman briefed the PM and other participants on M-4 and other projects of NHA in the country.

Earlier, the prime minister reached Rafiqui Airbase, Shorkot from where he arrived at the venue by a helicopter. A few dozen farmers of the area succeeded in reaching outside the venue and staged a demonstration. They were demanding of the government to lay a brick wall at Trimmu Sidhnai link canal. Police, however, stopped them outside the venue.

Shorkot MNA Sahibzada Nazir Sultan, in his speech, urged the prime minister to lay a brick wall at the canal as water seepage had ruined the farmlands. When the PM was going to end his speech, a villager stood up from the gathering and told him that mosquitoes were not letting them sleep at night. The PM could not understand the issue, however, he assured him of solving his problem.

A Toba MPA, Mian Rafiq, also stood up and said the issue of mosquitoes was because 80,000 acres of farmland had been affected by water-logging due to the canal water seepage while four feet deep water was flowing through crops.

Pirmahal Farmers Action Committee President Shafqat Rasool complained that he was stopped by the administration from taking out a rally to apprise the PM of the canal issue. He added Kissan Ittehad Shorkot President Haji Iqbal Sargana and PTI leader Ali Abbas Kamlana advocate were taken into custody for the same reason.

Those who were present in the ceremony from Toba included MNAs Chaudhry Asadur Rehman and Khalid Warraich and MPAs Mian Muhammad Rafiq, Amjad Ali Javed,Qadeer Awan and Pir Ali Baba.

The prime minister said he always remained extra careful while selecting words contrary to which an opposition party used derogatory language. It also used improper words during its electioneering in Azad Kashmir, but the people showed maturity and outright rejected this ‘dirty’ politics, he added.

The prime minister said PTI was getting no support for its much-trumpeted movement because the people needed politics for progress, prosperity and alleviation of poverty and literacy.