PM lays foundation stone of Margalla Highway

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Ring road will keep heavy traffic out of Islamabad, protect MHNP from encroachment


Zubair Qureshi

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday performed ground-breaking of the Margalla Highway project known as “Margalla Avenue” saying it will streamline the traffic on the roads of the federal capital and serve as a ring road barring the heavy traffic to enter the city.

While addressing the ceremony the prime minister said the project was part of Islamabad’s Master Plan (1960) but was not executed due to certain reasons and “now given the rapid increase in population of the federal capital we have decided to execute it so that traffic issues of the city could be resolved.”

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Senator Faisal Javed Khan, Chairman CDA Amir Ahmed Ali and senior officials of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) were also present at the foundation stone-laying ceremony.

Margalla Avenue a project worth PKR 588m (Dh 14.04 million) is a 9-km ring road that will pass through suburbs of the federal capital and along the MHNP.

Bypassing the Bhara Kahu bottleneck that becomes a choked road every year in the summer season due to tourists’ influx, it will link the M-1 (Islamabad- Peshawar Motorway) directly to Murree Expressway and farther to Galiyat (popular tourist places).

The prime minister drew the attention of the audience towards the Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP) along which the road will pass and said the ring road would protect the national park from encroachments.

First we shall make sure no tree is chopped down but even if it happens we shall replace it with another tree, assured the prime minister.

We had rich and vast terrains of green forests and wildlife reserves since the days of the British Raj but owing to sprawling construction work, gradually the trees were chopped down and the forest disappeared and now we are left with quite a small proportion of the original forest lands, he said.

The prime minister said since the birth of Pakistan in 1947, only 600 million trees were planted in the country that shows how ‘seriously’ the successive governments took the environment issue in the past.

He said the Margalla Avenue project would not only ensure protection of MHNP but also promote tourism by ensuring easy access to Galiyat like picturesque sites.

He assured that during the construction work of the Margalla Avenue as the project is known, the environment would be fully taken care of since his was the first government which had given serious consideration and priority to deal with the issue of climate change.

The prime minister mentioned in his speech the beauty and green character of Islamabad that distinguishes the city from the world capitals.

Annually, Islamabad receives rains almost equal to those London receives every year, said the prime minister and the city’s climate makes it an ideal place to live in.

We are aware of the concerns of the residents of Islamabad and will make sure the environment of the city is not affected by increasing population or construction of the road, he assured.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said it was very unfortunate that political parties misused religion.

Addressing the foundation stone laying ceremony of Margalla Highway in Islamabad, he said when the nation resorted to violence in the name of religion, it was doing no good to the country and was only pleasing the country’s enemies.

“If we protest and riot in Pakistan, this will have no impact on the world’s conscience.

If we want incidents of blasphemy to stop we need to launch an organised campaign,” he opined.

“This does harm to Pakistan only, and not to any other country,” he said, and added, “Everybody in Pakistan has deep love and reverence for Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Nowhere in the world, have I seen so much attachment with religion as I have seen in Pakistan.”

The prime minister said he would take all Islamic countries along in a campaign against the blasphemy of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

“Our movement will be so effective that such incidents would cease to recur,” he assured.