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Monday, July 15, 2024

They say I only make TikToks: Maryam tells opposition in Punjab Assembly

Maryam Nawaz criticized the opposition for lacking substantial achievements, stating that her government's 100-day performance could not be encapsulated in a single speech.

The Punjab Assembly on Friday descended into chaos during Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz’s address, resulting in the suspension of 11 opposition MPAs by Speaker Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan for 15 session days. The chief minister passionately appealed to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) backed Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) members to cease their disruptions and participate constructively in parliamentary proceedings for the country’s progress. “Stop it now; it’s enough, let Pakistan progress,” she urged.

Despite her appeal, opposition MPAs continued to chant slogans against the government and PMLN leadership, causing the speaker to struggle to maintain order. Ignoring warnings, the SIC MPAs persisted in their protests, leading to a heated exchange between some ministers and opposition members, plunging the house into complete disorder.

Consequently, the speaker suspended the membership of 11 opposition members for using “indecent” and unparliamentary language during the budget session, barring them from entering the house for 15 session days. The suspended SIC members include Zulfiqar Ali, Shahbaz Ahmed, Muhammad Atif, Tayyab Rashid, Imtiaz Mahmood, Hafiz Farhat Abbas, Chaudhry Muhammad Ijaz Shafi, Rana Aurangzeb, Shoaib Amir, Usama Asghar Ali Gujjar, and Asad Abbas.

Read more: Laptop Scheme Revived: Punjab CM Maryam Nawaz’s Initiative

Maryam Nawaz criticized the opposition for lacking substantial achievements, stating that her government’s 100-day performance could not be encapsulated in a single speech. She promised to implement the Punjab budget fully, vowing not to disappoint the province’s people and to remain diligent in her service.

The chief minister announced the introduction of a 911-style emergency system in Punjab, the establishment of Nawaz Sharif IT cities, and the provision of free high-speed WiFi. She asserted that all appointments in Punjab had been merit-based, a claim she believed no other chief minister could make.

During her address, Maryam Nawaz highlighted the budget’s lack of new taxes and announced several significant initiatives, including a Rs10 billion laptop scheme in collaboration with Google International, digital skills training for over 300,000 children annually, and new tech education programs such as Middle Tech, Matric Tech, and Inter Tech. Additionally, she unveiled initiatives in machine learning, artificial intelligence, e-merchandising, and startups skill development programs, aiming to educate 4,000 children in IT across every district of Punjab. School sports grounds will be converted into community sports grounds, and students excelling academically will have their university fees covered. The minimum wage has been increased to Rs.37,000 per month, with systems in place to ensure workers receive their full wages.

Read more: Maryam Nawaz responds to TikTok criticism

Maryam Nawaz also announced skill development programs for laborers’ children, including courses in plumbing, nursing, electrician work, and hotel industry skills. The “Maryam Ki Dastak” project will expand to include 65 more services across all districts within three months. Centers of Excellence for differently-abled individuals and autism centers are being established in every district. The first pre-school, Nawaz Sharif Children’s Library, will be set up in Lahore, offering state-of-the-art facilities and specialized teachers. She announced the issuance of “Himmat Cards” for disabled and bedridden individuals, the provision of wheelchairs, subsidized threshers and super-seeders for farmers, and the initiation of solar-powered agriculture tube wells.

Focus is on increasing oil seed production, with a Rs30 billion green tractor scheme where 70% of the cost will be covered by the government. She thanked the acting chief justice of Lahore High Court for ending the young doctors association’s strike.

The government is establishing rescue services and trauma centers on all motorways in Punjab, with two air ambulances arriving soon to serve the poor. The first Nawaz Sharif Cancer Hospital is being built, with outpatient services starting in a few months, and 500 more mobile clinics will be added. Construction of the Nawaz Sharif Institute of Cardiology has begun, and facilities for burns treatment, cardiology, and cancer care will be available in every city within three years. Cardiology and cardiac surgery services are being provided in eight districts of Punjab. An advanced emergency response system is being launched, and the first Nawaz Sharif IT City in Pakistan is progressing successfully. High-speed WiFi is being provided at 200 locations in Lahore, with plans to extend the free WiFi project throughout Punjab.

Maryam Nawaz announced that the safe city system would be operational in 18 districts within three months and in all 36 districts within a year. Waste management companies will be established in all districts, with implementation across Punjab in three to four months. The Green Punjab goals include the Plant for Pakistan initiative, a climate-resilient smog-free Punjab, a wildlife census, and the largest tree-planting campaign in history. For the first time, 700 new buses are being added to the public transport system across Punjab, and a petrol and e-bike project for students has been launched, with motorcycles being distributed on July 10. Initially, 10,000 applications for e-bikes were received from female students, so the number was increased from 20,000 to 30,000. A pilot project for shrimp farming has begun, with the first yield expected in the market in two months. Over 600 road repair and restoration projects have also started.

The CM praised Finance Minister Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman for making the historic budget possible. She noted that previously unavailable medicines are now being provided again, with free medicines distributed in all government hospitals and delivered to people’s doorsteps. A 10-kilogram bag of flour, previously sold for Rs1380 in March, is now available for Rs800. The Punjab government is starting a free meal program for children from preschool to fifth grade, worth Rs27 billion, to meet their nutritional needs and improve growth. The pilot project for the free meal program will begin in South Punjab, and after the summer holidays, free milk will be provided to all children in schools. The laptop scheme from Shehbaz Sharif’s era will also be restarted.