Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday inaugurated the much-awaited Lowari Tunnel in Chitral for traffic, taking the opportunity to lash out at his rivals, particularly the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), while he addressed a public gathering.
"These projects have been undertaken by the PML-N. The people who rule here are not the ones doing this work," he said, referring to the PTI's provincial government.
"They said they wanted to make a 'Naya Pakistan'. We encouraged them to make a 'Naya Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP)', but even that they have been unable to do. We are the ones building a 'Naya KP'
"We will make Chitral like Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi," he assured the residents of Chitral, who he said had largely avoided voting for him the last General Election.
He announced the setting up of a university for women in the area, which saw low turnout of women voters during the last election.
Touching briefly on the ongoing proceedings against the Sharif family in the Panamagate case before the Supreme Court, the PM asked for his opponents to inform him of the means through which he had earned money illegally.
"They conducted a circus of dharnas in 2014 ... and dug a grave for democracy," he claimed, referring to the PTI's Islamabad sit-in against alleged rigging in the 2013 election.
"They wake up every morning and beg for my resignation," he said. "Whoever thinks they should be ashamed of themselves, raise their hands," he urged the crowd — many of whom complied, to his delight.
“I want to tell the joint investigation team, PTI and everybody else that the public will not accept accountability from you. What you are doing [with the Sharif family] is not accountability, but exploitation. I can guarantee no one in Pakistan will accept this.”
"Don't test my patience," he warned his rivals.
The Lowari Tunnel
The Lowari tunnel is located on Nowshera-Mardan-Malakand-Chakdara-Chitral National Highway (N-45). It was completed at a cost of about Rs27 billion. Work on the plan started in 2013 when Prime Minister Sharif took over the government.
This is one of the mega highway projects initiated in 2005 during the government of Pervez Musharraf. But work was stopped at times due to a shortage of funds, and at others due to a change in design and security reasons.
Inauguration of the main 8.5km-long tunnel and a secondary tunnel of 1.9km will provide all-weather connectivity to Chitral with the rest of the country.
There are two access roads of 35km length with an access road of 17km in reaching the main tunnel and an 18km access road from Chitral to the tunnel. There are also 12 bridges built on these roads.