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Elections should be held on the same date:Shahbaz Sharif

Lahore: Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif has said that Prime Minister had invited all the Chief Ministers in Islamabad today to give a final shape to the election schedule and caretaker set up. He has also attended the meeting. Prime Minister expressed his desire that the elections of national and provincial assemblies should be held on the same date.
Representing PML-N and Punjab province, the Chief Minister adopted the stance that in principle we have no difference of opinion that the elections should be held on the same date throughout the country despite the fact that the constitutional tenure of Punjab Assembly will end on April 08, 2013. We are ready to hold elections along with center and other provinces, he added. However, he said that it is essential to evolve a unanimous strategy for holding elections and such caretaker Prime Minister and Chief Ministers in the provinces should be nominated who are able for these offices particularly our demand regarding Sindh and Balochistan is that instead of nominating Chief Ministers of own choice in Sindh and Blochistan through one sided action, such personalities should be nominated through wide range consultation process, whose hands are clear and have good reputation and people should support them.

 He expressed these views while talking to media representatives, anchor persons, senior columnists and intellectuals at Model Town, today. Senior Advisor Senator Sirdar Zulfiqar Ali Khan Khosa, Senator Pervaiz Rashid, Provincial Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan, Special Assistants Khawaja Salman Rafique, Zaeem Hussain Qadri, Members Assembly Khurram Dastagir Khan, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Chairman Planning & Development, Senior Member Board of Revenue, secretaries of the departments and other concerned officials were also present.

 Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif said that the process of consultation for caretaker set up should be based on sincerity and good intention. His question was that how it was possible that a party which remained part of the government for five years should sit with its allies by becoming opposition in overnight and decide the caretaker Chief Minister. He said that PML-N has set practical example of real consultation for caretaker setup. We have also consulted those parties for caretaker Prime Minister which have not a single member in Assembly, he added. He said it is our demand and every conscious Pakistani will support it that the Chief Minister should be nominated after consultation with Muslim League Functional and the alliance of ten parties which is real opposition in Sindh. Similarly, any one-sided action in Balochistan will also not be considered as based on sincerity.

It is demand of the justice and democracy that PML-N and the nationalist parties should be involved in consultation process for caretaker set up in Balochistan, he added. The Chief Minister told as far as the caretaker Prime Minister is concerned, we have made an offer to PPP that if it has any better name or names than ours, it should bring forward and we are ready to consider. He said you all will agree that the coming elections are not an ordinary or routine elections but the future and survival of Pakistan is linked with them. He said that these elections tantamount to save and make Pakistan.

The Chief Minister said it is his advice to PPP that such people should not be nominated for caretaker set up as could ease to create doubts about election results due to them and the people should lose confidence in elections. He said that during the meeting with Prime Minister, he did not agree to dissolve assembly on March 19. There is a need to create consensus on important issues before elections. If it is agreed upon, it would be good news for the entire nation and he thinks that elections should be held on the same day.

The Chief Minister told that after meeting with Prime Minister, he talked to Muhammad Nawaz Sharif in London and consulted him whereas senior leadership of the party has also been consulted in this regard. Later, he also informed the Prime Minister about the party stance again on phone upon which Prime Minister said that he will inform him in this regard. The Chief Minister said law and constitution is clear that Prime Minister will consult with leader of the opposition for caretaker Prime Minister whereas Chief Ministers will consult the opposition leaders in the provinces. He said that PML-N has proposed the names of able and honest personalities for caretaker set up.

Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif said he has congratulated Chief Minister Khyber Pukhtonkhwa on the approval of name of Chief Minister amicably in his province. If the caretaker set up was not decided, then the house committee will decide it and if it could not agree upon, then Election Commission will decide. He said that a committee consisting of senior leaders of PML-N Raja Zafar ul Haq and Ishaq Dar will meet the head of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F) Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman tomorrow. He said that the provincial assemblies of the four provinces are completing their constitutional tenure on different dates and we want that best and honest personalities should be brought in caretaker set up so that an important national responsibility could be discharged in an efficient manner. He said that Khawaja Zaheer was a very honest and dutiful bureaucrat.

Highlighting five years’ performance of Punjab government, Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif made it clear that development projects have been completed speedily with high standard in Punjab during five years. He said that implementation on transparency and merit was the hallmark of the Punjab Government. He said that third party audit system has been introduced while Transparency International Pakistan was asked to ascertain the transparency of three mega projects of more than Rs.36 billion including Metro Bus Project, Ujala programme and Laptop Scheme. He said that we are successful before the court of Allaw and the people as Transparency International has given the certificate of transparency to Punjab government which is not less than an honour for Punjab government. He said that we have made sincere efforts for the welfare of the people and prosperity of the province. He said that we did not import any new vehicle for the Chief Minister or his Secretariat.

The Chief Minister said that we have spent national resources for the welfare of the people by considering it a trust and took no steps for personal luxury. That is why he is satisfied while the rulers are looting billion of rupees while leaving the government, he added. Shahbaz Sharif said that the ministers and member assembly visited foreign countries at their own expenses while the Punjab government had to bear the expenses of the journey of government officers. He said that we have changed the working culture in Punjab and set an excellent example of working on the projects round the clock for completing before time. He said that attention has been paid to transparency and quality in every project including metro bus, construction of bridges and underpasses. He said that Yellow cabs were given to 20 thousand people and Punjab government through an agreement with Suzuki company saved Rs. 40 corer.

Similarly an agreement of solid waste management was made with a Turkish Company in which 44 million Dollars were further reduced, he added. An agreement was made with a Chinese company for purchasing solar panels under Ujala programme and the company provided 10 thousand solar panels free of cost to the Punjab Government due to which Rs.12 crore were saved. He said that due to our steps resources of Punjab government were saved and we tried to save every penny but I think that we have certainly made mistakes but we are also human beings. He said that there is a need of further development and prosperity of the people. He said that where corruption is rampant, menace of terrorism and worst loadhsedding exist and federal government is also severely opposing, in such a difficult situation it was very difficult to move forward. Replying to a question, the Chief Minister told that there is only one ministry with him and not 18 but no one could deviate the bench mark of the performance we have made in Punjab.

Replying to another question, he said that the theft of electricity and loadshedding will have to be checked and the taxes would have to be increased otherwise we will remain beggars and the ‘aghyaar’ will continue to humiliate us. He said that in Islamabad, thief and watchman have joined hands. If Metro Bus Project can be completed in eleven months, laptops are distributed and Ujalan Programme is launched in Punjab then we could also complete electricity projects but in 18th amendment, no new power has been given to the provinces for generating electricity. He said that now after 18th amendment, the subject of generating electricity has been included in federal list whereas NEPRA which is under the control of federal government, failed to fix the rate of energy to be generated through baggase and coal. He said that circular debt of electricity has reached five hundred billion rupees which included theft of electricity of 200 billion rupees whereas federal government gives sovereign guarantee and it has refused Punjab a number of times to give sovereign guarantee. He said that these are big challenges which have to be solved with unanimity. He said that if intention is good, the loadshedding can be eliminated in two years.

Replying to a question,Shahbaz Sharif said that there is a need of making accountability process more effective. He said that there is also a need of working a lot in providing justice in courts, law and order, thana culture and land revenue. In response to a question, the Chief Minister told that in previous era, local bodies had become the den of corruption and if Allah Almighty gave an opportunity of service to PML-N, it will hold local elections in very first year. He said that the elements which were arrested during 1997 to 1999 in Punjab were released during the moderate and enlightened era. He said that Elite Police School was closed since 2008 which was activated by him and arranged refresher courses for police officers in Turkey and training is still being imparted to Punjab Police officers with the cooperation of Turkey.

He said that Punjab government has taken every possible step for the protection of minorities and people are best judge in this regard. Shahbaz Sharif told that Federal Interior Minister did not give even a single penny to Punjab government for security and we are doing everything from our own resources. Responding to another question, the Chief Minister said that trade and commerce is federal subject. He said that the war is not solution to Pak-India problems but we have to fight wars in economic field.

The Chief Minister said he is happy that first we used to copy India but now India is following the projects of Punjab and it has also sought cooperation from Punjab government in the solid waste management whereas laptop scheme has been started in Uttar Pradesh.

The Chief Minister said that we will have to stop the lavish spending and will have to spend resources on the masses and elite has to sacrifice in this regard otherwise destruction is our fate. Chairman Planning & Development Javed Aslam gave a detailed briefing about five years’ performance, mega projects and welfare programmes of Punjab government.


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