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PML-N introduced culture of highways and motorways: Nawaz Sharif

27 April, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday said former military ruler Gen Ziaul Haq had profusely praised him for constructing a good-quality road at the hill resort Murree back in 1985.

“The late Ziaul Haq appreciated me a lot and said he was astonished to drive a car on Murree Road while proceeding to Bhurban from Rawalpindi,” the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader said while talking to party leaders from Rawalpindi division at a house in the Banigala area.

He said the PML-N had introduced a culture of highways and motorways at a time when not a single road in the country was worth driving on. “When I became chief minister of Punjab in 1985, I got Murree Road carpeted for the first time.”

Interestingly, Mr Sharif’s political opponents often accuse him of backing Gen Zia’s controversial decisions, including making Articles 62 and 63 part of the Constitution — the provisions under which he was disqualified as prime minister by the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case.

Talking about the political situation and filing of corruption cases against the PML-N leaders, the former prime minister said a new NAB reference was being prepared against him for widening Raiwind Road and urged the party workers and leaders to stick to his narrative — “give respect to the vote”.

“Now the time has come that we will not make any compromise on our narrative because we believe we can overcome all problems by giving due respect to the vote (people’s mandate),” he said, adding that people were encouraging him and the PML-N over this narrative. “We have to take forward this struggle.”

Mr Sharif said Pakistan, its military and civil security forces, schoolchildren and common citizens had all rendered unprecedented sacrifices in the war against terrorism, but despite this the country’s sacrifices were not being recognised by the world. “This gives us food for thought.”

Mr Sharif regretted that not one prime minister in the country had ever completed his/her term in office, while in the neighbouring country (India) the situation remained the opposite where all prime ministers had completed their tenures. “We have to think as to why it happened in our country,” he added.

After the Quaid-i-Azam, he added, only three leaders had managed to get people’s real mandate — Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, his daughter Benazir Bhutto and he himself — and yet they were all thrown out. “This dilemma has been continuing in the country for the last 70 years,” he regretted.

Mr Sharif said that corruption cases had been made against leaders of other political parties as well, but only his family was being targeted in the name of accountability.

He recalled that after his family’s factories had been nationalised by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, his father took a decision in the late 1970s; he sold his assets in the country and established a steel mill in Dubai. “Today we are asked how we had set up the steel mill in Dubai almost 45 years ago.”

The former prime minister claimed that the government under him had brought unprecedented progress, overcome loadshedding by adding 10,000MW electricity to the national grid, increased GDP growth from 3.9 per cent to 5.6pc and laid a network of motorways across the country.

Later, Nawaz Sharif held a one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and discussed several important issues, including the caretaker set-up, coming general elections, current political situation and the Islamabad High Court verdict disqualifying Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif for life.

Mr Sharif also met PML-N leaders and workers from Gilgit-Baltistan, Rawalpindi and Sargodha and discussed with them party issues and forthcoming elections.

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