Written by Syed Hamzah Jilani

The government of Nawaz Sharif has been jolted, for the second time, by resignation-demand, this time over the issue of off-shore companies, revealed by Panama documents, maneuvered and catalyzed by opposition parties. 

Panama leaks have, undoubtedly, developed a challenging situation for Nawaz regime. And it appears that, regardless of the outcome, political activity will gain momentum in days ahead.

Amidst this political windstorm, many positive things done by the government are bound to be ignored because people are more interested in sensational news which, mostly, is created by anti-government activities.

However, just for the sake of record, there are some good initiatives and efforts done by the government, which deserve to be acknowledged and must not go unappreciated. And one of them is related to infrastructural development.

Nawaz Sharif, after becoming the prime minister, was welcomed by multiple and multi-dimensioned problems which demanded immediate attention and adequate resources. Despite faced with limited resources, he managed to contribute towards national progression through some major road-connectivity projects such as: (1). Karachi – Hyderabad Motorway (M-9) which connects Karachi to Hyderabad, and is envisaged to be 136 Km long, with 16 exits and is estimated to cost around Rs24 billion. The project was inaugurated on 16th March last year and will reach completion in two- and-a-half years. Eventually this road, M-9, will be linked to the Karachi-Lahore and Karachi-Gwadar motorways to constitute Pakistan’s longest tract in the motorway network. (2) A signal-free corridor on Islamabad Highway was inaugurated in June last year. It will extend from Zero Point, Islamabad, to GT Road, Rawat besides addition of lanes to ease traffic congestion. In the first phase, a four-kilometer portion from Zero Point to Faizabad would be completed at a cost of Rs 1.6 billion. An overhead bridge would be constructed at Shakarparian Chowk to give signal-free access to travelers. (3)Pindi Bhattian to Faisalabad Motorway project will add two more lanes to the already existing four lanes in present, Pindi Bhattian to Faisalabad, motorway tract. Second section of Motorway (M4), already inaugurated by the Prime Minister, will be stitched to this which will extend from Faisalabad to Multan. (4) Hazara motorway (E-35) will stretch from Burhan to Shinkiari.  Last year first section of E-35, Burahan to Havelian, was inaugurated and few days ago, on April 28th, second phase, from Havelian to Shinkiari has also been inaugurated by the Prime Minister. (5)  Karachi-Lahore motorway is divided into four sections including 136-km Karachi-Hyderabad Motorway, 296-km Hyderabad-Sukkur Motorway, 387-km Sukkur-Multan Motorway and 333-km Multan-Lahore Motorway. Along with these some projects some infrastructural projects are associated with Pakistan-China economic corridor, they comprise: modern highway and railway transportation system; linking Kashgar in West China, to Khunjrab in the north and onwards to Karachi and Gwadar in the south of Pakistan through multiple routes.

(6) Lahore-Sialkot Motorway is the latest addition in the infrastructural development bouquet. The completion of Lahore-Sialkot motorway, expected to complete in two years, would open a new vista of economic progress. Sialkot, globally known for its quality products, skill and craftsmanship, is an economic hub of the country and its business community makes a considerable contribution towards national economy through its exports. A 4-lane motorway from Sialkot to Lahore, the two important industrial centers of Punjab, will give an impetus to economic activities in the province. NHA has named this motorway segment as M11; however it will also be called as Lahore-Sialkot Motorway (LSM) or Shahrah-e-Sanat (Industrial highway). Gujrat will be linked with LSM by constructing a bridge on the Chenab river near Shahbazpur. LSM will reduce the distance between Sialkot and Lahore to just 45 minutes. Added benefit of this road is that it stretches  along the banks of two local main canals namely Marala-Ravi-Link (MR Link) Canal through Motra-Daska and Bambaanwala-Ravi-Baidian (BRB) Canal Daska.

Infrastructural projects carry a multiple-positivity factor because they: create jobs, facilitate transportation across the country and bless the nearby area with increase in land value. Glimpses of nationwide progress do not match the anti-government protests being repeatedly staged to shake the government. Nawaz Sharif, unshaken with political attacks, continues to invest his time and efforts in progressive projects. No one can predict the fate of this regime but one thing is very clear that economic cost of any turmoil, leading to change in the government is going to be seriously high and only sufferers will be the people of Pakistan.