Shahbaz hits the campaign trail
ISLAMABAD, Feb 24: Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has been busy travelling outside Lahore, attempting to convince voters that the PML-N’s provincial government has done better than the federal government in Islamabad.
He has taken a particularly aggressive stance against President Zardari and the PPP, seeking votes for his party in the upcoming general elections.
On Sunday, Shahbaz Sharif visited Rakhmari village in Jand to inaugurate the Malala Yousafzai Daanish School. Later, he addressed a public gathering and took the opportunity to describe his government’s work in education.
He claimed that Daanish schools had been established not just in Attock but also in 13 other remote Punjab tehsils, “to provide the highest of education and training” to students.
“Children of needy families will no longer roam in the streets,” he said. “They will receive a modern education, free of cost, at a standard equal to elite institutions like Aitchison College.”
He also mentioned stipends and loans for education and said under the Punjab government’s Ujala Programme, bright students have received 250,000 Solar Power Unites and an equal number of laptops.
“It is up to you now to elect either those who have served you, or those who have stolen from you for their own interests,” he said, accusing “Ali Baba” and his party of corruption and plunder unprecedented in Pakistan’s history.
Sharif mentioned Tauqeer Sadik, former Ogra chairman, claiming that Sadik stole Rs80 billion from the national exchequer only to have the PPP government help him escape to the UAE with a new passport. Sharif also cited “billions” plundered in the rental power scam and money stolen from Haj pilgrims.
The chief minister also visited the outskirts of the capital where he laid the foundation stone for the construction of Kahuta Road, near Model Town Humak, where he was joined by several PML-N politicians. Sharif pointed out the recent metro bus project in Lahore which had been completed “in a record-setting 11 months, at a cost of Rs30 billion.”
“Zardari and his cronies would never have managed that project, even if they had spent Rs200 billion,” he claimed. He went on to say that billions of rupees worth of development projects have been completed in Lahore under his watch, and that he was ready to be punished if anyone could prove “even a single penny” had been stolen or misdirected.
He alleged that Zardari and the PPP had not just stolen money from the people, but had also denied them quality transport services. “The people of Islamabad’s rural areas have nothing but old, dilapidated buses, while Zardari and the rulers sit in bulletproof cars and helicopters,” he said.
Saying that loadshedding had closed factories, destroyed crops, and deprived people of their livelihoods, Sharif also claimed that the federal government abused employment schemes, “flouting merit” in every sector.
In contrast, he said, Punjab recruited teachers and police officials strictly on a merit basis.
“Development in Punjab is for the people,” he announced, promising that a PML-N government in Islamabad would establish a Rawalpindi-Islamabad metro bus as well, along with other projects to improve the lives of residents of Islamabad’s rural areas.
“If we had had cooperation from the centre, we would have been able to do much more,” Sharif said. He told the audience that while funds had been allocated to set up mechanical “sasti roti” tandoors in NA-49, the federal government “created hindrances.”
“With your help and your support in the coming elections,” he ended his pitch to voters, “we will begin a new chapter of development in Pakistan.”