Lahore: Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif has said that industrial workers will in future be allotted residences in labour colonies on ownership basis. He said that successful allottees in balloting will be able to sell their allotted flat or plot if it is at a distance from their workplace and build their house at the place of their choice. He also announced abolishment of child labour at brick kilns within six months and said that Provincial Labour Minister and Secretary Labour should immediately evolve a comprehensive plan in this regard and ensure its implementation.
He was addressing foundation stone laying ceremony of Workers Welfare Complex adjacent to Sundar Industrial Estate on Manga-Raiwind Road, today. The Chief Minister said that seven thousand instead of three thousand flats will be constructed in Workers Welfare Complex and will be handed over to industrial workers within two and a half years. He said that this project worth billions of rupees will realize the dream of workers and labourers to have their own house.
Similarly, he said, the project of construction of 992 flats in Multan has been started while 300 flats have been built in Muzaffargarh and given to industrial workers. He said that labour colonies will be set up in Punjab wherever state land is available and government will provide funds for this purpose.
The Chief Minister congratulated labourers, workers, peasants and farmers on International Labour Day and said that the dream of progress and prosperity of the country cannot be realized without prosperity of those who work hard for the economic development of the country. He said that labourers in Chicago rendered supreme sacrifices for the protection of their rights, however, the dignity and respect given by Islam to labourers, workers and farmers is unprecedented. He said that Islam has declared a worker as the friend of Allah Almighty.
He said that Punjab government has set up hospitals, schools and medical colleges and provided other facilities for labourers and workers in the province and steps are being taken for their welfare and betterment. He said that credit goes to Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif who as Chief Minister Punjab in 1985 initiated the process of welfare and uplift of working classes. He said that Pakistan cannot be termed as the country of Iqbal and Quaid if labourers, cultivators and workers are denied their rights. Referring to the prices of sugarcane, he said that traditionally Sindh government keeps the price of sugarcane two rupees higher than Punjab.
He said that when Punjab this time fixed the rate of sugarcane at 180 rupees per maund, Sindh government announced Rs.182 as sugarcane price but suddenly it reduced this amount to Rs.155. He said upon this mill owners of Punjab raised a hue and cry but he in order to protect the interests of the farmers of the province did not allow reduction in the price of sugarcane and made it clear that the economic interests of the farmers will be upheld at any cost and he will resign if the price of sugarcane was decreased even by a single penny.
Shahbaz Sharif further said that farmers have not received proper returns for rice, cotton and potato this year but the government has taken a number of steps for the solution of their problems. He said that the case relating to the price of sugarcane is in Supreme Court and he is confident that its decision will be based on justice.
The Chief Minister described the statement of Imran Khan in which he termed Daanish Schools as a scandal and demanded a probe by NAB as shameful and misleading and said that Khan Sahib should know that these schools have been set up for the children of labourers, workers, poor and destitute people, children of widows and orphans who are deprived of even basic facilities.
He said that Daanish Schools are not only providing free education of a high quality to these children but they are also being provided boarding and lodging facilities free of charge. He said that Daanish Schools are like parents to the children, therefore, a network of Daanish Schools has been laid in the backward districts of South Punjab. He said that Daanish Schools look like a scandal to Imran Khan only because they are meant for the poorest of the poor segments of the society.
He said that why Khan Sahib is not criticizing Aitchison, LUMS and Grammar schools for the children of the elite. He said that besides free education, hapless children are also being imparted modern knowledge with the help of latest technology and smart-boards.
The Chief Minister also mentioned a minor girl of Daanish School Chishtian who won 5th position in an international competition in America and said that the girl has no parents but still she has won laurels for the country on the basis of her talent and education being imparted in the Daanish School. He said that it is lamentable that Khan Sahib has tried to mislead the people on Daanish schools and has insulted poor people and workers by describing it as a scandal. He said that it shows that Khan Sahib has no concern with Pakistanis and his interest lies only in elite and rich classes.
He said that if Khan Sahib wants to send a case to NAB, it should be of Jehangir Tareen and Chaudharies who have got loans of billions and trillions of rupees written off. He said that if Imran Khan sends cases of these persons to NAB, he will be extended full support but he has anti-poor attitude which is reflected by his statement against Daanish schools. He said that this contradiction is a part of personality of Khan Saib.
Addressing the workers and labourers, Shahbaz Sharif said that these 95 percent people constitute the real Pakistan but Khan Sahib is supporting only five percent elite and ignoring 95 percent workers and labourers. He invited Imran Khan to go with him to NAB because if billions and trillion of rupees of nation are returned, it will change the destiny of the nation, begging bowl will be broken and Pakistan will not have to face humiliation.
Referring to the visit of Chinese President, the Chief Minister said that April 21 was an important day in the history of Pakistan when the Chinese President gave a historic economic package of 46 billion dollars to the country. He said that out of this amount, 20 billion dollars will be spent on power generation projects as energy is directly linked to the progress and prosperity of the country.
He said that Chinese President was scheduled to visit Pakistan in September last year but he could not come to Islamabad due to sit-ins and as a result of this a huge loss was caused to the country and eight precious months were wasted. He said that had Imran Khan given up his negative activities, these projects would have started much earlier. He said that though many people went to Khan Sahib to end his sit-ins but he refused to give up politics of sit-ins as he has no concern with the national interests. Shahbaz Sharif further said that Khan Sahib is running after judicial commission and is least concerned with KPK where a number of precious lives have been lost due to thunderstorm.
Shahbaz Sharif said that when he paid visit to every nook and corner of the province to help flood-affectees, Khan Sahib called it a drama. He said that if helping the distressed people is a drama, he will continue to do this as he believes in standing by the people of Pakistan. He further said that every effort will be made for the implementation of the agreements made with China. He said that these projects are being set up in Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, KPK, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir.
He warned Khan Sahib that if he hatched any conspiracy to create hurdles in public welfare projects, he will be answerable to 18 crore people of the country. He said that the projects to be launched under the agreements made with China are very important for the development of agriculture, industries and other sectors besides creation of job opportunities and poverty alleviation and no hurdle will be tolerated in their implementation.
The Chief Minister further said that on behalf of himself and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, he assures that no effort will be spared for the completion of energy projects and progress and prosperity of the country. He said that hospitals, schools, colleges and colonies will be set up for industrial workers wherever state land is available.
Referring to the prices of Ghee, he said that prices of palm oil had reduced in international market but prices were not being decreased in the country. But, he said, when he took a firm stance, prices were reduced and now people of the whole country are benefiting. He said that elimination of child labour at brick kilns is a big challenge and it is hoped that Provincial Minister for Labour and his team will meet this challenge efficiently. He said that there is a lot of demand for skilled manpower in Gulf countries. He said that Punjab government has constituted a steering committee in this regard and if two lakh skilled workers got job opportunities in Gulf countries during next two years, it will be a big revolution.
Provincial Minister for Labour Raja Ashfaq Sarwar in his welcome address, said that May 1st is the day of solidarity with labourers and Punjab government gives due respect to the working community. He said that Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif is a worker-friendly chief minister and is, therefore, present among the labourers on this day. He said that the Punjab is the first province where after 18th Amendment, a labour policy has been formulated and the cabinet has also given its approval. He said that Punjab labour policy is labour-friendly and is aimed at strengthening of national economy.
Earlier, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif unveiled the plaque of Workers Welfare Complex. Provincial Parliamentary Secretary Labour Mian Naveed, Members National and Provincial Assembly, labour leaders and a large number of male and female workers were present on the occasion.