MANSEHRA: "Pakistan is poised for an economic takeoff," Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif claimed at the inauguration ceremony of the Havelian-Thakot Motorway section in Mansehra on Thursday.

The 120-kilometre section of the motorway, part of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), is expected to be complete in 42 months with a cost of Rs133.98 billion, Radio Pakistan reported.

China Exim bank will fund 90 per cent of the project, while the remainder will be funded by Pakistan.

The stretch of motorway from Havelia passes through Abbottabad, Mansehra and Shinkiari, ending at Thakot.

In line with an earlier strategy ostensibly aimed at wooing voters for the 2018 elections, the PM announced a number of road and power projects for the region.

"This is proof of my love," he told the people of Dodiyal. "It will take less than 1.5 hours instead of five hours to travel from Burhan to Shinkiari [along the new motorway]," he said. "I love the people of Dodiyal and Shinkiari as much as I love the people of Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta," he said addressing a large crowd of cheering supporters.

The premier announced two gas projects catering to the region. "2018 will be the year power shortages end," he claimed, adding, "There will be no loadshedding in Pakistan... Electricity will be cheaper."

"I don't just come by to cut a ribbon, I finish what I start," he assured the people of Dodiyal. "Everyone else is pulling your leg," he claimed. "You will soon be rid of the others who conspire," he said in a veiled reference to his opposition.

"Where is 'Naya Pakistan'?" he asked. "These are our provinces... You will see a Khushaal Pakistan by the end of our tenure," he claimed.

"These plans will be complete within the next two years and then we will go towards a new election."

The inauguration ceremony comes as the government on Wednesday approved a Budget Strategy Paper for the next fiscal year with a target to spend Rs1.497 trillion on development.

Nawaz headed to Kotli Sattiyaan on Monday and announced several development projects for the neglected Rawalpindi district, including a Rawalpindi-Kotli Sattiyaan-Muzaffar­abad expressway and distributed compensation cheques to those affected by recent rains and landsliding in the area.

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