News Analysis |
Chief Minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif took a sarcastic jibe at the ruling regime of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf – on Wednesday, claiming that he would be completing the Peshawar’s metro bus project, which, according to him was progressing at a snail’s pace.
In a tweet, posted before he set off for his first KPK tour as Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz President, Shehbaz proclaimed that he would be finishing the project with ‘Punjab speed’ – a reference to the title conferred upon him by the Chinese officials.
The younger Sharif went a mile more as he addressed a worker’s convention in Peshawar and gave a timeline of five months for the completion of public transport project besides claiming that the government was building it for rupees 71 million, as compared to rupees 30 million spent by the Punjab Government for the same project.
The Metro Bus ‘ploy’ has worked wonders for Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz in Punjab for the 2013 elections, following which the Punjab Government inaugurated such projects in Rawalpindi and Multan.
The Chief Minister also lashed out at his arch-rival Imran Khan claiming that he made tall claims but only PML-N has fulfilled promises. The Punjab Chief Minister also termed the Billion Tree Tsunami project of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government ‘a big fraud’ and claimed that there is not a single big hospital in the KP’s capital city.
The 66-year-old politician assured his party workers and the public that his party would strive hard to bring Peshawar at par with Lahore in terms of infrastructure development, provided the public votes for PML-N in the next electoral tussle. The PML-N President also mentioned the continued absence of Imran Khan regarding the defamation case over allegations that Shehbaz offered a bribe to the tune of Rs 10 billion for keeping mum over the Panama Case.
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The CM Punjab also recounted the sacrifices rendered by the civilians and armed forces, mentioning that the blood of those martyred in APS massacre had not gone waste. Wednesday’s tour was the first-ever by Shehbaz Sharif after replacing his brother as the party president and the inclusion of a sitting legislator of PTI, Siraj Muhammad, in PML-N can be seen as an initial success of his visit.
Muhammad had won elections from NA-6 Nowshera-II and announced leaving his party to join embattled PML-N at the residence of Engr Amir Muqam, President PML-N Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK). While Shehbaz slated Imran Khan and KPK government, the PTI supreme was retaliating in the same coin as he addressed his party workers in the same city.
The Punjab Chief Minister also termed the Billion Tree Tsunami project of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government ‘a big fraud’ and claimed that there is not a single big hospital in the KP’s capital city.
Regarding the Peshawar Metro Bus project, Khan claimed that it would not affect the national exchequer as no subsidy would be granted, contrary to the one provided to masses in Punjab. He also chided Shehbaz Sharif and expressed that his development was advertisement based whereas KPK was witnessing progress on the ground.
The cricketer-turned-politician quipped that after the directives by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar – regarding a ban on pictures on advertisements – the progress by Shehbaz Sharif came to a halt. The PTI chairman went a mile more and lambasted Shehbaz Sharif by saying that he should feel some shame before expressing views over debt, claiming that before the tenure of PPP and Sharifs, every Pakistani owed Rs 35,000 which has now swelled to Rs 125,000.
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Imran Khan also hit back at Shehbaz Sharif over the criticism of Billion Tree Tsunami project, declaring it “the best”. It is worth mentioning that the work on Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit started in October last year with Chief Minister Pervez Khattak promising to end the project in a span of six months, however, the design changes seem to be delaying the project.
The PML-N President also mentioned the continued absence of Imran Khan regarding the defamation case over allegations that Shehbaz offered a bribe to the tune of Rs10 billion for keeping mum over the Panama Case.
The 49.3 billion project – 26 kilometers in length from the Chamkani area to Hayatabad – was slated to be inaugurated by April 20, however, there seems no hope for such move, despite the fact that the ruling regime has around 50 days in hand. Apart from administrative bottlenecks, the project is being delayed because the design has been changed at 11 different points and as per Peshawar Development Authority Director, General Israrul Haq, the people should not expect it before May 20.
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The Metro Bus ‘ploy’ has worked wonders for Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz in Punjab for the 2013 elections, following which the Punjab Government inaugurated such projects in Rawalpindi and Multan. Recently, CM Shehbaz also promised that the residents of Faisalabad would be having their own Metro Bus provided the public supports PML-N again.
The strategy of PML-N to woo voters seems more focused on the infrastructure development partially because it believes in ‘seeing is believing’. On the other hand, Imran Khan terms such project ‘gimmicks’ and emphasizes more on “Human Development.”