PESHAWAR: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced the establishment of an international airport in Bannu, alongside other development projects in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) on Tuesday.
"We will build an international airport in Bannu," the premier told a cheering crowd. "Repeat with me: This is 'Naya Pakistan'," he hit out at the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) with their oft-repeated slogan.
In an address ostensibly aimed at wooing voters away from the ruling party in KP, Nawaz announced uplift projects for the province and lashed out at the PTI as both parties continue to trade barbs over Panamagate.
A war of words between opposition leaders and the government has escalated over the past few weeks, with some opposition parties holding anti-corruption rallies and calling for the PM's resignation over allegations of corruption after the Panama Papers revealed the Sharif family's offshore holdings.
Nawaz aggressively hit out at the PTI at the joint press conference alongside JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman who last week assured the premier of his party’s all-out support in the wake of Panama leaks crisis.
"I wanted to see 'Naya Pakistan' but I was disappointed," he told his audience. "Where is 'Naya Pakhtunkhwa? When I go to Peshawar, Mansehra, Shinkiari and other parts of KP, I don't see it. When I come to Bannu, I see old roads, old buildings, old schools, old hospitals."
"Two years they cried about 'dhandli' and took out protests," he said, without naming the PTI. "When the case went to the Supreme Court (SC), which ruled there had been no rigging in the elections, it was a slap to their faces but they didn't even apologise," Nawaz thundered.
"They are making the same baseless allegations... If corruption of even one penny is proven, I will go home," he said.
"We will build a new Bannu," he assured the crowd. "It is not our government, but we are here to serve you," he said, adding, "They are not doing anything."
The premier, however, fumbled as he announced uplift projects for the province and had to be prompted on multiple occasions.
"The first part of this project..." he began. "What was it? Pardon me."
Nawaz recovered from the initial setback quickly and went on to announce a series of infrastructural and power projects for KP, including a university in Lakki Marwat, development of the Baran Dam in Bannu, an electricity transmission project for Bannu and reparation of the Indus Highway from Rangeela to Dera Ismail Khan.
The PM's visit to Bannu comes a day after he announced the National Health Programme for 76,000 families in Balochistan, as well as other development projects in the province. Days earlier, the PM paid a visit to Mansehra where he also announced uplift projects.