LAHORE-ISLAMABAD MOTORWAY (M-2) The idea of constructing a motorway linking Lahore with Islamabad along an entirely new alignment, numerous kilometers west of the existing highway, was first put forward by Mian Nawaz Sharif when he was the chief minister of Punjab The feasibility report prepared for the project estimated its cost at Rs 82 billion, or about US$250 million at the then prevailing exchange rate The proposal did not advance very far, since the Islamabad administration under Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was hostile to the provincial administration of Mian Nawaz Sharif, showed little interest in the project The idea was revived, however, when Mian Nawaz Sharif replaced Benazir Bhutto as prime minister The motorway was identified as one of several projects included in the multibillion-dollar highway construction program developed by the Nawaz Sharif government soon after it assumed office The program-the motorway included-received the government’s approval in a special meeting of the cabinet on 10 October 1991 Three months later, on 10 January 1992, Mian Nawaz Sharif performed the groundbreaking ceremony of the motorwayThe contract for the construction of the 340-kilometer motorway was given to Daewoo of South Korea The project was to be completed over a period of three years

With the return of Benazir Bhutto as prime minister in October 1993, however, the project suffered a major setback The new government stopped payments to Daewoo, while yet another investigation was carried out Ultimately the government decided to proceed with the construction of the highway but on a schedule considerably longer than the original It was only after the return of Sharif as prime minister in February 1997 that the project once again received the government’s attention The motorway was opened for public use in November 1997 It cost US$2 billion to build It is now a part of an ambitious program of a network of motorways that will crisscross the country by the year 2020 The Lahore-Islamabad Motorway (M2) is being extended toward Peshawar on the border with Afghanistan, with the construction of M1 Lahore will also be connected with Faisalabad and Mullan in southern Punjab with the construction of M4 and M5, and ultimately linked with the port cities of Karachi and Gwadar

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