ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif Monday expressed resolve to take difficult and important decisions to improve national economy, eliminate terrorism and address the energy crisis to achieve the goal of a prosperous Pakistan.
In his first address to the nation since he assumed office, the Prime Minister vowed not to indulge in politicking on vital challenges confronting the country, that was passing hrough a very difficult phase and required that the nation stands united.The Prime Minister during his around an hour-long address, aired live on all radio and television channels, touched upon all vital subjects including terrorism, foreign affairs, situation in Balochistan, floods, health, education and the heavy burden of loans that were hampering the progress of the country and impeding welfare of the masses.Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan’s progress cannot be achieved without a stable economy and said it requires resolving the energy crisis and terrorism.
It requires that internal and external investment was increased manifold.He said his first visit to China, soon after coming into power was especially aimed at taking up this issue for finding its solution. He assured that the Kashgar to Gwadar Economic Corridor will not only change the fate of Pakistan, but also the entire region.He said the national institutions that once were a source of pride, were now costing an annual loss of Rs 500 billion, while the total national debt has risen from Rs 3000 billion in June 1999 to a whooping Rs 14,500 billion in fourteen years.
Prime Minister Sharif said his government was also committed to provide all resources and cooperation to the elected political provincial government of Balochistan, to bring an end to the killings in the province and to focus on its progress and development.He said the situation in Balochistan was a matter of serious concern for every Pakistani and everyone has to ponder the reasons that led the situation to such an extent.He said similarly the lawlessness in Karachi also cannot be allowed to hold the economic and commercial hub of Pakistan hostage.
“Karachi has been a city of lights and peace. Its stature as such must be restored. The federal government is committed to fully help the provincial government in this regard,” the Prime Minister said.Prime Minister Sharif said he was not satisfied with the working of the existing operational machinery in the country.“Nothing, whether it is the energy crisis or any other field of operation, Pakistan cannot afford corruption or incompetence at any cost.”
He said he also treats lethargy and inactivity as ailments akin to corruption and now only those officers will be treated with respect and honour who are committed to selflessly serve the masses.The Prime Minister said in Pakistan’s administrative machinery there was no place for impractical, corrupt and passive officers and workers.“A rusted machinery like this is not acceptable to me, for the building of a great Pakistan,” the Prime Minister said.
He said he has opened up his heart to the masses and said as a nation “we are part of a family. Whenever there is a difficult time, the whole family stands united.”The Prime Minister said that he had taken oath of office in June and it was his desire to open his heart before the nation without any delay.“I wanted to share my intentions and dreams, which I always cherished for the progress and prosperity of the dear motherland,” he added.He said but when he took over the reigns of the government and observed the situation closely, it appeared that the things were far worse than he had expected. The gravity of the situation demanded that without opting for speeches, priority should be given to putting in place an effective remedy to put a balm upon the sufferings of the country, inflicted during the last fourteen years.
“During the last two and half months, not a single moment had lapsed when I did not think about how to tackle the challenges confronted by the country. Not a single day passed, when we had not put our heads together to devise a strategy to eliminate terrorism, get rid of the load-shedding and other problems,” he added.The Prime Minister said that they should not shut their eyes to the serious issues being faced by the country. On one hand, the growing menace of terrorism has jeopardized the national integrity, while on the other, the worst load shedding issue has paralyzed the economy.
He said during the last fourteen years, the worst mismanagement, prevalent corruption in every sector, inability, favouritism and flawed decisions had shaken the very foundations of the country.“Whether it is PIA, Pakistan Railways, Pakistan Steel or WAPDA, or any other institution, all have been on the last verge of destruction and mismanagement. These were the institutions over which once we had taken pride. These institutions, which contributed to the national kitty, are now causing a loss of Rs 500 billion per year, meaning that during the last five years, these institutions have eaten away Rs 2,500 billion,” he said.
“All this amount is your hard earned money. If such an amount was not wasted, a new PIA and a new railway could have been established. A new motorway from Karachi to Lahore could have been constructed,” he said.
The Prime Minister said for the public, more than two million additional housing units could be constructed, the villages could be provided with the clean drinking water and dozens of universities and hospitals could be constructed. Moreover, with this huge amount, the load-shedding crisis should have been overcome.He recalled that during 1999 when his government was toppled, Pakistan had a total loans of Rs 3,000 billion, which in the last 14 years, had swollen to Rs 14,500 billion.He said now it was an irony that for repayment of huge installments of such debt, they were forced to seek more loans and if they did not do so, God forbid, the country could go bankrupt.
He said that he did not want to mention details of yester years corruption because it was not possible to mention it in this speech.But he did want to refer to two precedents based upon corruption, senselessness and plunder; these two examples pertained directly to the power generation and load shedding, he added.The Prime Minister said that he felt greatly obliged to Almighty Allah while addressing the nation and wanted to express his gratitude to the people for the confidence they had reposed in him and his party. In his view, this
confidence was a great responsibility and a sacred trust.Prime Minister Sharif recalled that the Nandipur Power project was initiated in 2007 with the cooperation of China and billions of rupees were spent on the import of its machinery.He said it was the time when the masses were facing severe loadshedding and looking for even a single unit of electricity.He, however, pointed out that this project was halted due to the vested interests of a few people, and the machinery worth billions of rupees was
kept rusting at the Karachi Port.
Even the copper of its coils were stolen, and this 425 mega-watts power project faced devastation.The Prime Minister said the present government after coming into power restarted this project without wasting any time. But its cost had increased from Rs. 30 billion to Rs. 59 billion.So, Pakistan will not only have to spend an extra amount of Rs. 36 billion on this project, but the completion of the project will also face a delay of around six years, he added.
The Prime Minister said the story of Neelum-Jhelum project was also not different, as the 970 mega-watts power project, which was initiated several years back and due to complete in six years time, was delayed.But the way this project of national importance was dealt with bad administration, carelessness and incompetency, its details are very disturbing, he said. Now Rs. 274 billion would have to be spent on this Rs. 85 billion project.“I have directed completion of this project by 2016. You would be surprised to know that the transmission system was not included in the project.
When I visited the project site, the people concerned had no answer to this question that how the electricity produced from the project would be transmitted to the people.”Prime Minister Sharif pointed out that at least three years were required for the project of laying the transmission line. He immediately directed to make laying of transmission line as part of the power project and start the work on it.“You can imagine that if this step was not taken, even after the completion of Neelum-Jhelum project, the electricity could not be transmitted to the people and factories due to non-availability of the transmission line and the capital of billions of rupees had gone waste,” he remarked.
The Prime Minister while highlighting the steps taken by the government to tackle the energy crisis, said the government had addressed the circular debt issue, which was badly hampering the electricity production by the power producing units not running to their full capacity.He said despite the country’s worse fiscal situation, the government paid a huge amount of Rs. 480 billion in the circular debt, which led to the addition of around 1700 megawatts to the national grid.The Prime Minister said one reason behind the loadshedding was pilferage of gas and electricity. According to experts, the volume of this pilferage ranged from Rs 150 billion to Rs. 250 billion per annum. “This is an open dacoity on the national resources.”
He said the present government had initiated an effective campaign against the power and gas pilferers. This drive would continue with full commitment. “Insha Allah, the government will strictly deal with suchpeople, as the culture of loot and plunder has now ended.”The Prime Minister told the nation that the government in coordination with all the provinces, had also formulated an energy policy.The consensus approval of this energy policy was a mile-stone in the efforts to address energy crisis.“Alhamdulillah! the federal government and all the provinces are united and in harmony in addressing the electricity crisis,” he remarked.
The Prime Minister, however, added that he did not want to keep the people unaware of the fact that despite the payment of circular debt, tackling the power pilferage and other administrative measures, complete elimination of the crisis was not possible. To achieve this goal, the resources of power production would have to be augmented.He said getting the new power production resources immediately was not possible. Three to four years were required for the establishment of coal-fired power producing units, while the hydro-power projects required eight to ten years.
“Keeping this in view, we have taken key decisions in this regard,” he added.The Prime Minister said that he would soon give a good news to the nation about the inauguration of 6600 MW electricity projects at Gadani. Similarly, he added, electricity generation from coal at Thar would also be started.He said such steps would help mitigate the electricity crisis gradually and it would be resolved during the fiver-year constitutional term of the present government.
He said that these steps had been taken during the last nine weeks, which had helped improve the situation to some extent. It was not possible in such a short period if his team had not worked on this sector, he added.The Prime Minister said that like the loadshedding, the issue of terrorism was also the result of flawed policies and specific interests. More than 40,000 Pakistanis, including personnel of Pakistan army, security agencies and police, had been martyred in the war against terrorism, he added.
“ Our daughters in several parts of the country could not attend educational institutions, our coming generations are being paralysed by depriving our children from polio drops while our play grounds are anxiously waiting arrival of foreign teams,” the Prime Minister said.
He said that efforts were being made to discourage foreign mountaineers from visiting the beautiful snow-clad mountains. The Ziarat Residency of Quaid-e-Azam was attacked while the educational institutions and worship places were also not spared.Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the biggest tragedy was that there was no power to stop the criminals from committing such heinous crimes, to identify them and their hideouts, and give them exemplary punishment under the law.
“What all this is — Can it be named inefficiency or insensitivity? Whatever it be called, but Pakistan cannot tolerate such situation any more,” the Prime Minister added.He said the time had arrived to tell the truth to the nation and accept that “our administrative institutions, intelligence agencies and justice system have not proven efficient to fulfill their responsibilities and face the severe challenge of terrorism.”He said had timely steps been taken, the bloodshed and explosions would not have spread to the length and breadth of the country.
He said the nation had the right to ask why meaningful and concrete steps were not taken during the yester years to stop this bloodshed.The Prime Minister said that neither the performance of intelligence agencies was improved to train them according to the needs of the time, nor they were provided with modern equipment. Nor the coordination system between them was strengthened.“We should accept the reality that without ending this static situation, control over the growing incidents of terrorism is not possible,” he said and added that the terrorist groups after committing crimes on the roads safely reached their hideouts.
He said if even the terrorists were arrested, and those arresting them were seen frightened. The investigation process required professionalism, personal interest and expertise, but the authorities concerned lacked all these. As a result when the issue was sent before the judicial officers, they also looked hesitant of conducting trials.The Prime Minister added that the witnesses also felt terrorized. On the other hand, jails were broken and the terrorists succeeded in escaping.The Prime Minister said he extended open offer to all the political parties after the general elections to join hands to face the challenges confronted by the country and for its progress and prosperity.
He said his offer for reconciliation was not only for the political parties but it was also for those elements, who unfortunately had adopted the path of extremism.The Prime Minister said the government had more than one options to deal with the menace of extremism and terrorism but it wanted to adopt the way, which could save the precious lives of innocent people.He said the government wanted to resolve this issue through negotiations or it could use force against these elements. All the stakeholders and institutions were unanimous and united on the mission to end extremism and terrorism from the society.
He said as Prime Minister of Pakistan, every citizen was like his own child. He said he could not carry the coffins of his children every day.“I too want to end this bloodshedding like every one.”The Prime Minister said he was fully aware that the dangers to Pakistan’s security were somehow related to the foreign policy.He said,”We have to think and analyze the situation that what had been achieved through the foreign policy adopted by the government in the past.”The Prime Minister said there was a need to review the foreign policy. Without this review the country could not achieve the targets of welfare of the people using the national resources.
He said Pakistan could have become the Asian Tiger if the momentum of progress and prosperity of 1999 could have continued, as its currency was at the top and it had adopted the policies to improve economic activities.Referring to the Kashmir issue, the Prime Minister said it was a national issue and Kashmir was a ‘jugular vein’ of Pakistan.He said he wanted the solution of Kashmir like every Pakistani. He said there was a need to keep in mind that without achieving economic stability, Pakistan could not achieve its objectives.
The Prime Minister said it was the responsibility of the leadership of both Pakistan and India to join hands in finding the resolution of issues like poverty and under-development.
He said the wars fought in the past had pushed Pakistan and India many years behind. He said it had been proved and was a reality that progress and prosperity of the countries depended on peaceful relations with the neighbours.
The Prime Minister said the government wanted to have good relations with all the neighbours, including India.He said Pakistan always gave importance to improve relations with India to ensure stability in the region. The nation supported him on this issue in the recent elections.The Prime Minister said both the countries should realize that they should not spoil their resources on wars and concentrate on the welfare of their people, fight poverty and diseases.He, however, added that the whole Pakistani nation along with its armed forces were fully prepared to defend the country at all cost.
The Prime Minister said there was a need to review the policy regarding Afghanistan. “We should get rid of this notion that every one in the world is our enemy.”He said adopting this philosophy that every one is Pakistan’s enemy, the country could not ignore its responsibilities.The Prime Minister said, “We have to adopt a policy through which we can be recognised by the world as a new bright face.”He said on the drone issue, he had already explained his point of view in clear terms. He said these drone attacks were violation of Pakistan’s
sovereignty and integrity, against the international laws and negated the basic human rights.The Prime Minister said he had categorically conveyed this to US Secretary of State John Kerry.He said the Secretary General of the United Nations had also condemned the drone attacks, in which innocent people had lost their lives and clearly stated that these were against the international laws.He said he hoped that Pakistan’s sovereignty and integrity would be respected.On the Balochistan issue, the Prime Minister said it had become a very serious issue for every one.
He said innocent people were being made victims by those, who were playing with the lives of common people.Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the Pakistan Muslim League-N despite in a position to easily form its government in Balochistan, decided to ‘let it go’ in the best national interest.He said he valued Balochistan’s governor as the governor from his own party and had the similar regard for the governors of other provinces.He also expressed full support for the Pakistan Peoples Party’s government in Sindh.He mentioned several meetings with the governors and chief ministers of Sindh and Balochistan and mentioned the offer of the federal government to undertake development projects in Thar and Gaddani.
He said the government was concerned over the law and order situation in Karachi and hoped that the provincial government would take steps to rid the country’s largest economic hub of terrorism.Nawaz Sharif said he had the desire that Karachi might become a prosperous city and expressed his wish to jointly lay the foundation-stone of a metro rail system in the city along with the Governor Sindh. The Prime Minister said despite support to the provinces, the federal government would remain strict on the issue of corruption.
He asked the provincial governments to follow the policy of merit and warned that notice would be taken on complaints of corruption.
The Prime Minister stressed that the country’s development was not possible without a strong economy. He termed local and foreign investment as vital for achieving stable economic conditions in the country.He said the purpose of his recent official visit to China was to attract investment and to help the country overcome the problem of electricity shortage.He said the government was focusing on installation of several power plants across the country.The Prime Minister mentioned a number of memoranda of understanding and agreements signed with of China on development projects in diverse fields.
He termed the project of Gwadar-Kashgar motorway a ‘game changer’ that would give a boost to the regional economy.He said the project would lead to the establishment of economic zones and help end unemployment in Pakistan.He said the project, in particular, would result into speedy development of Balochistan, Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and Gilgit Baltistan in addition to Punjab.
The Prime Minister said the construction of motorway between Karachi and Lahore would be a good news for the people of Sindh and Punjab, who would witness development in their areas.He said he wanted to expand the network of motorways across the country and extend it to the Central Asian states and the SAARC countries for the benefit of maximum people in the region.The Prime Minister commended the nation by saying that he had seen the fervour of people during the elections and the affection they had expressed for him, could not be forgotten.
He said that he wanted ample opportunities for the youth to play their role in the progress and prosperity of Pakistan and the government had decided to adopt such a policy enabling them to earn the living themselves.He said that he would soon announce details of a programme for the youth.The Prime Minister said they wanted to steer the nation out of the clutches of poverty and backwardness as he wanted maximum members of each family to become earning hands.
“I want to convey a good news on this occasion, we have prepared a scheme of affordable housing units for the low income families. Everyone knows that provision of a shelter to himself and his family is the dream of each person. We have decided to materialize this dream.”Prime Minister Sharif said, “I announce with much pleasure that during the upcoming five years, thousands of homeless people lacking in means and belonging to all the provinces of Pakistan, will become owners of their houses. Insha Allah, I shall announce details of this scheme this year.”.
He said that he also wanted to mention that their thinking and endeavours were not only limited to the terrorism and load shedding issues.He along with his team had been striving hard to find ways to rid Pakistan of all the problems. These issues also included the minorities’ issues and empowering of womenfolk, he added.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that he had realization of issues related to health, education, drinking water and other daily matters. Though majority among them belonged to the provincial governments but he would timely keep the nation abreast of all the planning of the federal government for their resolution.He also sought solid suggestions and proposals from the people.The Prime Minister also specially mentioned the flood affected populace and maintained that the federal government would help them at all cost.
The provincial governments were expected that they would not exhibit any slackness in meeting the requirements of the flood affected people by providing them shelter, food and medicines, he added.“I appeal to all the nation to lend support to the calamity-hit people by following their great Islamic and national traditions. We have to express our complete national fervour and unity in this hour of trial,” he added.The Prime Minister reminded the nation that with mere aspirations, they could not achieve anything.
“The path to prosperity and development demands sacrifices and his heart bears testimony that despite such huge hurdles, shortcomings and weaknesses, they can build Pakistan, which is reflected in their hearts,” he added.But for it, they have to gird up their loins, overcome their shortcomings and weaknesses and sacrifice for a brilliant future, he said. No doubt, issues were enormous, but not greater than their spirit of faith. The path might be difficult, but not enough to overshadow their strong intentions.He said that the destination could be far away but they bore the qualities of courage, passion and a strong will.
He said that he believed that a Pakistan aspired by the Quaid-e-Azam and Allama Iqbal was entering into a new bright era and he had a firm belief that the darkness of backwardness would soon diminish and the sun of prosperity would dawn upon the country.“My heart bears testimony that the blood of Shaheeds, who have laid down their lives for Pakistan, will bear fruit,” he said.Prime Minister Sharif urged the nation to face the difficulties boldly and tread the path to new horizons as they have the blessings of Almighty Allah and the Holy Prophet (PBUH). – APP