Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif yesterday said a new airport in Pakistan’s capital will be operational by mid-August, replacing the cramped Benazir Bhutto International Airport that was the butt of jokes for many travellers.
Sharif’s government is spending billions of dollars on upgrading Pakistan’s transport infrastructure and ending energy blackouts, with freshly-paved motorways as well as dams and power plants popping up across the country.
Sharif touts big-ticket infrastructure as sign of economic progress in the country of nearly 200mn people, and many of the projects are due to be finished ahead of the elections, likely in the middle of 2018.
“We have focussed on this Islamabad airport project and we are completing it on a fast pace,” Sharif told state-run PTV, during an inspection of the glass-clad airport.
“The speed of completion of projects should be good at countries that want to progress.”
The Benazir Bhutto airport currently servicing Islamabad is actually located in the nearby city of Rawalpindi, and attached to a military base.
International travellers often complain about chaotic scenes at the airport and in 2014 it was voted the worst in the world by the “Guide to Sleeping in Airports” website, prompting widespread criticism of the airport in Pakistani media.
The new airport, which has been long delayed, will become operational on Aug. 14. Officials say 95% of the work is completed on the new facility.
Also yesterday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif laid the foundation for a new Metro route that will connect the capital to the almost-completed Islamabad Airport near Fateh Jang and promised to breathe back life into dormant projects abandoned by the previous governments, Geo News reported.
Speaking to journalists, the prime minister said there was so much corruption in the country that “if we get involved in investigations, then it will take up all of our time”, adding that there were so many corruption scandals and frauds that they couldn’t even be listed.
The PM said projects that should have been completed in two years were dragged on for 20 years and still remain incomplete. He vowed to breathe back life into the “sick”, dormant projects that have continued to burden the national exchequer but failed to show any substantial results.
“The infrastructure projects initiated under our administration will definitely see the light of the day,” Sharif promised, adding that speed was a pre-requisite for a country geared towards progress.
When asked why some people are opposing the development of road networks, the PM highlighted that infrastructure is a sign of progress. The prime minister also reviewed the new Islamabad airport in its almost-complete state and laid the foundation stone for the new Metro bus link to the location.
“The world is heading towards Pakistan,” the PM remarked, reasoning that the country’s stock market at present is the most important example of foreign interest.
The new Metro project is under the National Highway Authority’s (NHA) management and divided into four stages, cost almost Rs18bn, and comprises four interchanges and fourteen stopovers. It will effectively link the new Islamabad Airport to Peshawar Morr, feature nine bus stations, 11 underpasses, and 12 bridges, and will be 25.6km long.
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