Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said Pakistan was faring better than India economically, adding that the country was now on the path to progress.
Addressing the groundbreaking ceremony for the upgradation of the Lodhran-Multan Highway, he said Pakistan and India had similar population density and climate conditions.
"But look at the decisions they made and where they are. Compare that with the decisions we made and see how we have fared. Today when their growth rate is at minus seven per cent, ours is at four per cent even though our position was not as strong as theirs."
When the pandemic hit, India was in a financially stronger position, he said. The premier said in Pakistan, when the pandemic began, his government tried to protect the economy and the lives of the people, adding that Pakistan would now progress because "tough times are over."
The prime minister said that the government was now focusing on uplifting different sectors including agriculture, IT and tourism. "We have never tapped our true potential for tourism. If you spend all your holidays in London, what would you know about the many things this country has been blessed with?"
He concluded by saying he would give "good news" to the public in the future.
'Govt faced undue criticism'
PM Imran said that when the PTI government came into power, it had to face a lot of undue criticism. "Within the first week of us coming into power, they started asking where Naya Pakistan was and asserting that we had failed."
He said his government got through that period by being patient. "There was a lot of critcism on the media, and I knew the opposition would do the same as they want NROs. Yesterday, they staged a show and said the country is headed towards ruin," he said, in an apparent reference to the PML-N's pre-budget seminar.
"So we faced a tough time, we had to face constant criticism. The media also portrayed the same, as if bringing about Naya Pakistan was as simple as flipping a switch.
"This was a great lesson for my team, for the public and the country. Change can only be achieved through struggle. No society can change without it [struggle]," he said, adding that it was a matter of changing the status quo.
"Think of it as freeing yourself," he said, giving the example of the people of the subcontinent freeing themselves from British rule. "Look at Quaid-i-Azam's struggle, there were so many ups and downs."
PM Imran said Pakistan was currently facing a major struggle to free the country from "mafias". "They [mafias] are everywhere. They want us to fail so that they can keep a system in place which benefits only them."
Commenting on the need for ensuring the rule of law, the premier said: "Society changes when the powerful are brought under the law. Countries that are prospering have ensured the rule of law," he said, adding that developed countries did not have "sugar and political mafias".
"They [opposition alliance] call themselves the democratic movement and are asking the army to topple a sitting government. Their only purpose is to protect their interests, and they are ready to do anything to achieve this end," he said, referring to the Pakistan Democratic Movement.
The premier began his speech by congratulating all PTI ministers and MNAs from south Punjab on the highway.
"As the foreign minister said, this is an excellent road that will connect three districts and will reduce travel time."
He hoped that this road would also help in generating economic activity.
According to Radio Pakistan, the project is an important section of the Karachi-Lahore-Peshawar national highway (N-5). The National Highway Authority will complete the project at a cost of Rs6.886 billion in two year's time.
The project is an important milestone in the field of communication and will usher in a new era of development in south Punjab, the report said.
It will ensure smooth flow of traffic between Lodhran and Multan and promote economic activities as well as create job opportunities. Geographically, this project is also of immense importance as this highway is located almost in the centre of the country and provides access to Balochistan.