Development in south Punjab belies defectors’ claims, says Shehbaz

Punjab CM says 36 per cent of development budget is allocated for South Punjab

Says South Punjab is getting biggest share of development budget with Rs 227b

LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday denied claims made by the defecting lawmakers from south Punjab that the provincial government had ignored the region, saying that record development work had been carried out there during his terms in office.

The CM said this while meeting Members of National Assembly (MNAs) and Members of Provincial Assembly (MPAs), belonging to the ruling party, from South Punjab.

The meeting came a day after when in a major setback to the government, six MNAs and two MPAs on decided to part ways with the ruling party and form a new political alliance by the name of South Punjab Front.

During the meeting, the parliamentarians from South Punjab expressed complete trust on the leadership of Shehbaz, stating that the vote bank of PML-N has increased due to development projects of the chief minister in the southern region.

The vision and hard work of Punjab government have shown the people that who is really concerned about them, the PML-N leaders said.

Shehbaz stated that 36 per cent of development budget of the province is allocated for South Punjab, adding: “With Rs 227 billion, South Punjab is getting the biggest share of the development budget in Punjab,” he said.

The ruling party president further said the issue of Southern Punjab is being used politically. “PML-N has always supported the idea of new provinces,” Sharif said.

“Unluckily, past rulers used the slogan of the creation of a province of southern Punjab for their political purposes,” Shehbaz said adding that PML-N got resolutions approved from the assembly for setting up of Southern Punjab province.

He said that people of Southern Punjab were fully served by the provincial government along with their elected representatives during the worst floods of 2010, adding that South Punjab is also given more development budget as compared to its population.

Shehbaz further disclosed that Fort Munro is being developed as a tourist spot by the government. He said that marked improvements have been brought in different sectors in Southern Punjab including health, education and infrastructure development.

“The people have also been given best transport facilities through latest infrastructure,” concluded the chief minister.

Those who called on the chief minister included Federal Minister Sardar Awais Khan Leghari, Minister of State Abdul Rehman Kanju, MNA Sardar Amjad Farooq Khan Khosa, Malik Sultan Mehmood Hunjra, Sardar Ashique Hussain Gopang, MPA Zeshan Gurmani and former MNA Saddique Khan Baloch. Punjab Minister Rana Mashhood Ahmad and Special Assistant to CM Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan were also present on the occasion.

On Monday, MNA Khusro Bakhtiar from Rahim Yar Khan along with other lawmakers, including MNA Tahir Bashir Cheema from Bahawalnagar, MNA Rana Qasim Noon from Multan, MNA Basit Bukhari from Muzaffargarh, MNA Tahir Iqbal Chaudhry from Vehari, MNA Alam Dad Laleka from Bahawalnagar, and MPAs Sardar Nasrullah Khan Dareshak from Rajanpur and Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht from Rahim Yar Khan, announced that they were resigning from their seats to work for the creation of a new province.

Pakistan Today, in its report on March 20, had already broken the news that a large number of incumbent and former lawmakers, especially from South Punjab, were ready to leave the ruling party.