Islamabad: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday clarified his earlier remark on frequent protest strikes in Karachi which had drawn the ire of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the largest political party in the port city.
At an event in Karachi on Friday, the prime minister had remarked that “a strike is called in Karachi even when a fly dies,” and had urged Governor Sindh Dr Ishratul Ibad to reduce the number of such strikes. The comment drew sharp criticism from opposition politicians, with MQM chief Altaf Hussain demanding an apology from the premier and cautioning him to be “careful in choosing his words”.
Speaking on the floor of the National Assembly, the prime minister said on Tuesday that he was not the one to start talk of ‘flies’ and that he was merely drawing the attention of the Sindh governor to a statement made by somebody else. Somebody “said that even when a fly dies, there’s a strike here. On which I said strikes should not take place, and asked the governor if he had heard what he said. I later also talked about this in my speech. All that conversation took place in a lighter way,” he explained.
Nawaz said he hoped his clarification had satisfied the MQM leaders. He said that the federal government is assisting the Sindh government for completion of mega development projects. He said that the government has earmarked five billion rupees for Green Line Transport System in Karachi. He said that this is a mega project and is expected to be completed at a cost of 20 to 25 billion rupees.
The prime minister said the federal government would fully fund this project. He said that it will be a gift from the federal government for the people of Karachi. He said five billion rupees allocation has been made in the budget for the project. He said that the MQM should appreciate this gesture.
He said work on Hyderabad-Karachi Motorway has also been started and it will be completed by 2017. He pointed out that work on culverts has begun and after completion the work of motorway construction will begin. He said that we would complete the Hyderabad-Sukkur and Sukkur-Multan and Multan-Lahore sections of motorway in our tenure. He said he chaired a meeting this morning attended by the FWO director general and the National Highway Authority chairman in which all the matters came under discussion.
Nawaz said that the federal government would provide a matching grant for K-IV water project for Karachi to resolve the problem of water supply of the city. He said the federal government has already released two billion rupees and five hundred million will soon be released. The prime minister said that the government is also launching a mega project to connect Gwadar Port with the Central Asian States and then to the Western route of Pakistan-China Economic Corridor.
He said that all the link roads from Gwadar to Quetta and Quetta to Chaman to connect it with the Central Asian City of Tirmiz will be constructed to connect four Central Asian states. He said that Quetta-Chaman route will be completed by the end of next year. He said that Chaman-Kandahar-Mazar-e-Sharif-Tirmiz will be developed. He said work on Peshawar-Torkham-Jalalabad motorway is going on.
The prime minister said it will be extended from Jalalabad to Kabul-Mazar-e-Sharif and Tirmiz. He said with the completion of these routes, Balochistan will be opened and will be connected with all parts of the country. He said these are big communication projects which will connect the whole country. He said these projects are necessary for integrity, unity and cohesion of the country and ending sense of deprivation of Balochistan.