By: Ahmed Raza
The renowned German Imperial Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, in a speech to the German parliament in 1884 beautifully defined the real essence behind politics. He said, “Politics is not a science…but an art.” The art Bismarck here is referring to is the skill of government, the exercise of control within society through the making and enforcement of collective decisions.
Now, if we put Bismarck’s notion in context of the Pakistani political scene, then, one gets extremely disappointed as politics done here are solely based on personal interests not national interest. Unfortunately, a majority of politicians over here have zero concern to what actually should be done for solving public issues, and are purely interested in safeguarding their vested benefits.
The recent prime example in this regard is the parting of eight Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) members including six MNAs and two MPAs, who have announced the launch of a mass movement to make Southern Punjab a separate province as they think no concrete steps are made for the development of South Punjab.
The one point that suddenly struck me is that one and a half month are left after which the National and Provincial Assemblies will be dissolved, and therefore once again the pathetic culture of changing political parties has started, following the trend which political party has a better chance of winning in the upcoming General Elections and eventually joining it.
In this case, when I made a general study that whether this argument is valid that South Punjab witnessed a deprivation in current government’s regime, the facts presented an altogether different story.
The present Punjab government specifically has given immense importance to South Punjab’s development, that constitutes 32% of Punjab’s total population. An excellent aspect of it is maintaining a constant 36% of Punjab’s development budget every year (2014-2018) for Southern Punjab’s growth, which was as low as 15% during Pervaiz Elahi’s regime.
For instance, in Dera Ghazi Khan District of South Punjab, which from a strategic and economic point of view holds huge significance, the completed projects in current government’s tenure worth around Rs: 47 billion, which include “Rehabilitation / Widening 24 KM (10 to 12ft) road from ChotiZareen to ChotiBala,” costed around Rs: 352.725 million, “Construction of KotChutta By-pass consisting of 5.50 KM,” costed around Rs: 447.707 million, “Rehabilitation of metalled road from Indus Highway Mehboob More to BastiKokari, Basti MassuWala, BastiMithuWala to Alam Khan road via Kala Colony,” costed around Rs: 300.156 million and “20 bedded Trauma Center at T.H.Q Taunsa,” costed around Rs: 93.267 million.
Then, in Multan, huge efforts have been made for the improvement of health sector, the great example of which is the extension of 150-bed Children’s Hospital completed at a cost of Rs1,929 million. Further, the other significant health initiatives include Burn Unit at Nishtar Hospital, Multan (Rs807 million), Multan Institute of Kidney Diseases (Rs1,399 million), Shahbaz Sharif District Headquarter Hospital, Multan (Rs411 million) and Regional Blood Center, Multan (Rs300 million).
Moreover, the regional blood center has also been made operational earlier in Bahawalpur. Both, this and the Multan regional blood centers have been set up under Punjab Government’s Safe Blood Transfusion Project, and 40 hospitals of South Punjab are connected to these centers, while in the second phase, centers like these would be established in Lahore and Faisalabad. Also, all of these centers will provide safe blood to the linked hospitals for free. Both the centers are equipped with the latest machinery and highly qualified staff, and are expected to offer safe blood to over four million residents of entire South Punjab including Multan, Muzaffargarh, Khanewal, Lodhran and Bahawalpur.
Apart from this, the Chief Minister of Punjab Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, during his visit to Multan earlier this year also inaugurated digitally operated cold chain storage, which is first of its nature in Pakistan whose warehousing will be managed by the TCS. Because of it, there will be remote possibility of any kind of embezzlement in the distribution of medicine.
Moving from health, the transport sector in South Punjab has also witnessed great success, an apt example of which is the 18.5 km long Multan Metro Bus service. Adding to it, energy sector is one another area where the solar energy plant of 400 megawatts established at Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park in Bahawalpur, is momentously covering the substantial electricity needs of South Punjab’s population. While this whole project is of 1,000 megawatts, it will be upgraded to it subsequently.
The Khadim-e-Punjab’s Zewar-e-Taleem Programme is another remarkable initiative, in which top priority is given to the districts of South Punjab that include Bahwalpur, Dera Ghazi Khan, Layyah, Muzaffargarh, Rajanpur and Rahim Yar Khan. The core purpose of this programme is to improve enrollment and retention of girl students in the public sector schools, who are getting monthly financial assistance of Rs 1,000 each, besides reducing gender disparities and enhancing female participation. The criteria for this programme is that the schoolgirls need to maintain 80% attendance, and girls from class six to ten are eligible for this programme.
Then, the core idea behind establishment of the Daanish Schools is providing state of the art education to the poor students, particularly of South Punjab. Especially, in the 2017-18 Punjab provincial budget, three billion rupees have been exclusively allocated for the development of Daanish Schools in South Punjab, which include upgradation of the existing schools and construction of 4 new schools.
A further magnificent step about which CM Punjab made announcement during his recent visit to Dera Ghazi Khan is providing 100 acres land for the formation of Cadet College and Welfare City in the Fort Munro. The establishment of Cadet College in Fort Munro is without a doubt a landmark project, that will facilitate residents of the Dera Ghazi Khan and other areas of South Punjab.
I am not here to advocate PML-N that they have been superb in their governance, but my point actually is that this is not what the Pakistani masses really want. They want politicians who are committed to serving, regardless of which political party they belong. The reason why today the Democratic system in West looks more effective and strong is because their political culture is totally based on the principles of morality and commitment, and this is what our country desperately needs at the moment. Problems and differences occur in every political party, but this is absolutely wrong that you just use it benefit your own personal goals.