ISLAMABAD: Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain on Sunday said the Sharif family had purchased Avenfield flats in London after committing massive corruption in the Lahore-Islamabad Motorway project.
The Sharif family was purchasing the Avenfield flats at the same time when the most expensive agreement of the region for the construction of a motorway was being signed by the then Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government, he told a news conference.
Minister for Communications and Postal Services Murad Saeed also spoke.
Mr Fawad said the PML-N government did not spend the money on the welfare of people and rather it laundered the money abroad to buy luxury flats in London.
Murad says PM took practical steps for Balochistan development
The minister said that the money spent on such expensive projects by the PML-N government was borrowed from different international financial institutions. As a result, he said, the country had to pay $2 billion in interest to a company which was in agreement with the then government to construct the motorway.
He mentioned a report published in a leading national daily on Dec 4, 2002, stating that the cost of Lahore-Islamabad Motorway had exceeded Rs60 billion. The total income from Motorway till 2002 was Rs450 million only, he added.
Lashing out at Prime Minister Imran Khan’s critics who said that he was against the construction of motorways in the past, Mr Fawad said Mr Khan was never against the development of road infrastructure, but the corruption which was committed in the name of such mega projects.
“There is no concept of development without road infrastructure because communication (linkages) are everything, but if you start building roads to promote your own business as it was in the case of Sharif family then there would be no development in the country,” he said. Mr Fawad said corrupt practices at local level did not cause major damage to the country, rather it was the systematic corruption of a prime minister and his cabinet members which ruined the nation.
The minister said that the same happened in the country where from 1947 to 2008, the total debt stood at Rs6 trillion, but it were the Sharif and Zardari families which took the debt to Rs27 trillion only in 10 years.
The incumbent government had to pay back $10 billion over the last three years because of loans taken by the past governments, he added.
The minister said the country still had to repay massive debt which had piled up due to corruption of those two families in all economic sectors of the country.
In reply to a question, the minister said that contracts worth Rs1 trillion for road projects had been signed during different tenures of the PML-N government.
The present government, he said, was striving hard to root out such mafias that had been weakening the country.
About corruption cases against the Sharif family, he said the government was pursuing them vigorously to take them to logical conclusion.
Speaking on the occasion, Murad Saeed said the construction and expansion of highways would not only usher in a new era of economic development in remote areas of Balochistan, but they would also pave the way for economic development in the entire region through CPEC.
He said that progress and prosperity of Balochistan province was must for the development of Pakistan, adding that “if Balochistan is prosperous then Pakistan will be prosperous”.
Mr Murad said that Prime Minister Khan not only promised development and prosperity of backward areas of Balochistan, but also took practical steps for the purpose.
The minister said that in comparison to rulers of the past, Mr Khan paid special attention to development of Balochistan .
He said the previous government claimed to have built roads in the past but they ignored Balochistan.
“We have always strived hard to put Balochistan on a path to progress to make it a developed province where people have equal access to health, education, clean drinking water, employment and business facilities,” Mr Murad asserted.
He said the previous governments in Balochistan only issued tenders for development projects but they practically did nothing for the purpose.
“The PTI government not only approved the western route of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) but also initiated Zhob-Kuchlak project,” he said.
The minister said that construction work on 146-km-long Hushab-Awaran Highway was in full swing.
He said Prime Minister Khan laid the foundation-stone of Quetta western bypass and Dera Murad Jamali bypass this year.
The video of Quetta western bypass project has been released and work on Dera Murad Jamali Bypass was under way, he said.
Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2021