LAHORE        -            Sialkot-Lahore Motorway being opened to general traffic on 30th this month will not only invigorate country’s key manufacturing city of Sialkot, but also help speed up economic development of Pakistan. Pakistani-American entrepreneur Mussadaq Chughtai, expressed these views while talking to APP here Monday.

“The realization of this long-awaited project will improve connectivity of golden industrial triangle of Sialkot, Gujranwala, Gujrat-Wazirabad to the rest of the country especially Lahore, resulting in a big boost to exports,” he hoped. To a question, he elaborated that located in the eastern part of Punjab, the area now connected via motorway was a key manufacturing part of the country, accounting for about 15 percent of Pakistan’s annual exports.

“Exports from Sialkot included sports goods, surgical equipment, leather garments, riding gear, polo equipment, badges, motorbike accessories and agricultural products including the world-famous Basmati rice. The neighboring Gujranwala is the center of ceramic and textile products, while Wazirabad and Gujrat provide a big share of cutlery. The area is also agricultural heartland of the country,” he maintained.

Mussadaq Chughtai, who also founded Pakistani-American Leadership Center, said that now the new stretch of the motorway with its connecting points would reduce travel time between industrial zones and shipment facilities in Punjab capital city. He cited that transport between Mehmood Booti (Ring Road) on the outskirts of Lahore and Sialkot would be just one hour.

At the moment, it took around three hours to travel from Lahore to Sialkot but the new motorway section, known as M-11, would save around two hours time and ultimately save millions of rupees being spent on fuel and ensure fast-paced shipments for businesses. To another question, he explained that the ease and pace of shipment as well as freeing up of large sums of money would gear up economic activity as businesses would invest more hence there would be more jobs and more people employed.

 He asserted, “A surge in manufacturing will lead to a jump in exports, something that Pakistan needs urgently to break out of its current low volume hovering between $20 to $25 billion annually.” With modern infrastructure, Pakistan would now be much better-placed to diversify its manufacturing base, and it gave a tremendous edge to Pakistan to explore potential in new industries including engineering and electronics. He mentioned that Sialkot International Airport, the country’s first ever privately built facility, would also see a rapid rise in passenger travel and generate revenues to the tune of tens of millions in Pak rupees. This summer SIAL Air, a Sialkot-based airline, would start three domestic flights of Airbus that would operate in the first phase from Sialkot to Karachi-Islamabad-Lahore-Peshawar. According to official figures, he said, Sialkot-Lahore Motorway had been built at an approximate cost of Rs40 billion and runs 91.47 km, consisting of two lanes on each side with seven interchanges, namely Kala Shah Kaku, Muridke, Narowal, Gujranwala, Daska, Pasrur and Sambrial.