- PM make first address to nation, resolves to eliminate terrorism, improve economy, address power crisis
- India, Pakistan should wage war against poverty, ignorance and disease, not each other
In his first address to the nation after becoming prime minister for the third time, Nawaz Sharif on Monday vowed to address all challenges facing the country and assured that good neighbourly ties with all countries would be pursued for regional peace and prosperity.
The prime minister expressed a firm resolve to eliminate the menace of terrorism, improve economy, address power crisis and pursue good neighbourly relations with all countries of the region, including India, for regional peace and prosperity.
Addressing the nation over radio and television networks, the prime minister said Pakistan was facing serious challenges like terrorism that were endangering the very survival of the country and worst kind of load shedding that had paralysed the economy.
“The very foundations of the country have been shaken due to mal-administration, rampant corruption in every sphere and inefficiency of the last fourteen years that has brought national institutions like PIA, Pakistan Steel, Railway and WAPDA to the verge of virtual collapse. These institutions are inflicting huge losses of five billion rupees annually to the national exchequer,” he said, adding that national debt which stood at just 3,000 billion rupees in June 1990 had now soared to 14,500 billion rupees.
The prime minister said one could gauge the insensitivity of the previous regime and the level of corruption from two instances of Nandipur and Neelum-Jhelum power projects. “Their execution was either obstructed or criminally delayed leading to massive increase in the cost and delay in their completion at a time when the country badly needed electricity.”
Nawaz recounted the measures taken by the present government to overcome the electricity crisis. He said despite financial constraints, the government arranged retirement of circular debt worth Rs 480 billion as a result of which electricity generation had increased by 1,700MW.
He said another factor of load shedding was massive theft of electricity and gas ranging between 150 to 250 billion rupees annually and that was why the government had launched an aggressive campaign against power and gas theft and the campaign would continue with full resolve.
Nawaz said a consensus national energy policy has been approved with input from the provinces which was an important milestone in efforts to overcome the electricity crisis. He said long term measures were also being initiated to mitigate the electricity shortage and soon coal-based power plants with aggregate capacity of 6,600MW would be inaugurated at Gaddani, followed by establishment of plants at Thar.
He expressed the confidence that the menace of load-shedding would be over during constitutional tenure of the PML-N government.
Referring to terrorism, the prime minister said the government was determined to tackle the problem either through dialogue or with full might of the state and all state institutions were on the same page on the issue. He said the government had more than one option to tackle the problem but wisdom demanded that there was no loss of innocent lives. He invited those treading the path of terrorism to dialogue to end the vicious cycle of bloodshed.
Nawaz said it was time for bold review of our foreign policy, as without it, scant national resources could not be exploited for the good of the poor and progress and prosperity of the country. He said his dream to make Pakistan an Asian tiger was deeply linked to this.
The prime minister said Kashmir was a national issue and jugular vein of Pakistan and resolution of the problem was as dear to him as other Pakistanis. He, however, said we “will have to keep in the mind that we cannot achieve any target without strengthening economy of the country”. He said alongside Kashmir, “we will have to pay attention to strengthening our economy, resolving internal and external problems and tackling power crisis and terrorism”.
He said Pakistan and India would have to sit together so that they could address common issues like poverty and ignorance.
Nawaz said history bore testimony to the fact that progress and development of a nation was deeply linked to cordial relations with neighbours.
“It is because of this that we want good relations with all neighbours including India. I have always wanted good relations with India and people supported my contention during recent elections”
He said both countries should realise that instead of wasting their energies and resources on wars, they should wage war against poverty, ignorance and disease. The PM said the nation was fully prepared to defend the motherland along with its valiant armed forces.
Nawaz added that the nation would have to pursue a strategy on Afghanistan that highlighted the bright face of the country in the comity of nations. He said the government had a clear cut position on drone attacks which were violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and this was directly communicated to US Secretary of State John Kerry, urging him to stop the attacks.