There is no concept of good governance in Punjab. In fact, the Shahbaz Sharif dispensation is a travesty of good governance. Mr. Sharif, with all the trappings of authoritarianism, is governing the province at his whims. A chief minister is expected to come up with a modicum of vision followed by solid policy-making to achieve short, medium and long terms goals. But during his eight-year tenure, he has shown neither vision nor initiated effective policy-making. It’s a one-man show with a totally ineffective cabinet and a 'docile' bureaucracy. All powers are concentrated in one person, wielding unbridled authority. Mr. Sharif appoints comparatively junior officers on senior slots and banks on their docility. The bureaucracy has lost all confidence and is unable to deliver.
Law and Order
There is neither law nor order in Punjab. The Sharifs have turned Punjab into a police state and the priority of the police is to provide security for Sharif family members and crush their detractors. Police are tasked with accomplishing political assignments, relegating crime control to the back burner. I introduced Highway Patrolling Police to reduce robberies and established the Elite Force to fight street crime. Consequently, street crime dropped by 60 percent at the time. Recent police statistics show a 70 percent increase in street crime in Punjab. During my tenure, no one had heard of cattle theft which is now rampant. Mr. Sharif is using the police to kill Pakistan Awami Tehreek workers and lob tear gas shells on the chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He and his cohorts are using the police for furthering their political agenda, leaving the lives and property of public at the mercy of dacoits and gangsters.
Fighting Terrorism and Extremism
The PML-N government in Punjab is in league with the Taliban. Shahbaz Sharif has an alliance with the Taliban that they will not target Punjab. I have just one question for him: Are people living in other provinces not Pakistanis? He must be charged for this single crime. The Chotu Gang episode exposed the performance of the Punjab Police and was a reflection of their complete failure. Shahbaz Sharif’s cronies like Rana Sanaullah openly support and patronise terrorists just for minor political gains. They will never allow Rangers to conduct an operation.
The situation of public sector schools in Punjab is pathetic. I had provided the vision of 100 percent literacy rate in Punjab by 2020. To achieve the goal, my government provided free books to students and ensured 100 percent enrolment in schools. I have statistics that show the Shahbaz Sharif government has closed 10,000 primary schools over the past eight years. They have handed over 5,000 primary schools to the private sector as they are unable to run them. Their only focus is to distribute laptops among senior students with the objective of getting votes. The policies of this government have forced people to send their children into the labour force as they cannot afford the fees of the private schools. The Danish Schools proved to be another huge failure of the Shahbaz government.
Healthcare stands nowhere in their priorities. How can they know the condition of hospitals when they themselves go abroad for minor medical checkups? The condition of major hospitals in Lahore is pathetic. Reports indicate that three patients undergo treatment on a single bed. Hospitals are overburdened with patients, who have no option but to lie on floors of hospital corridors. During my tenure, I built a number of new hospitals, including Fatima Jinnah Medical University, District Hospital, Gujrat and a Dental Hospital. Moreover, the government was providing free medicines to patients in all hospitals. But now, patients are not only forced to purchase medicines, but they even have to bring their own bed sheets. Shahbaz Sharif has not made a single hospital during his eight years, and, furthermore, he stopped funding to health projects which were underway during my term.
No one can match Shahbaz Sharif's hostility to farmers. He is basically an industrialist, who is hell-bent on exploiting farmers instead of giving them any relief. Farmers in Punjab are the worst hit during the past eight years. The focus of my government was the welfare of growers and to ensure canal water for ‘tail-enders’ and a good price for the produce was the utmost priority. But now the middleman is making a windfall. Water theft is no longer a punishable crime and the condition of farmers is deteriorating. The recently announced Rs.100 billion Chief Minister Kissan Package is an eye wash. It is just an announcement to win their votes. The government announced the package in the budget of 2016-17 but, so far, the allocated funds remain unspent. Their entire focus is on Metro and Orange Lines in Lahore and the amount allocated for the Kissan Package will be utilised for the ‘CM's babies’.
The PML-N came to power with the promise that they would bring down prices of essential commodities to the level of 1997. This was their main slogan; to provide maximum relief to the poor. What they have done is totally the opposite. Instead of bringing down prices, they have increased the burden of taxes on the poor, which has resulted in an alarming increase in prices. The government has evolved no mechanism to overcome the price hike and inflation. In fact, the poor stand nowhere in their priority list. Their only motto is loot and plunder. Prices of sugar, pulses, flour and vegetables are sky rocketing and beyond the reach of even the middle class. The government has given a free hand to traders to reap unjustified profits to woo their votes. The poor are committing suicide but the government is totally indifferent towards their miseries. They want to eliminate the poor instead of eliminating poverty.
Development Projects and Transparency
Shahbaz Sharif has scant regard for rules. He just issues orders and wants immediate execution. That’s why all projects initiated by him have met with complete failure. Despite spending billions of rupees in Lahore for constructing underpasses, overpasses and the Metro Line, the issue of traffic snarl-ups still persists.
The Nandipur Power Project and Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park proved to be disasters. The Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park was supposed to produce 100MW electricity but is generating just 17MW.
Now the provincial government is constructing a coal-fired power project in Sahiwal, which is again an ill-planned scheme and will meet with complete failure. Sahiwal is known for its fertile lands without any coal mines.
Similarly, the Sasti Roti, Yellow Cabs and Danish School Projects failed to deliver. I know the Sharifs have personal ties with the head of Transparency International and they have accommodated him with an office at the PM Secretariat in Islamabad. All the reports issued by Transparency International on the fairness of projects in Punjab are a pack of lies.
Shahbaz Sharif has ruined the Punjab economy through massive loans on high mark-ups and wasting money on projects that were destined to flop. During my tenure as chief minister, the GDP growth of Punjab was 7.5 percent, which has now plummeted to three percent. My economic policies created one million jobs annually. When I left the chief minister's office, the provincial government had Rs.100 billion cash surplus to be transferred to the next government. Now, due to Shahbaz Sharif's poor economic management, the provincial government has run up a Rs.1,000 billion deficit. The utilisation of funds is just 45 percent which underlines the poor performance.
The only thing where Punjab excelled during the past eight years is corruption. The chief minister himself is involved in corruption so it is rampant in every department. The 'Jangla' Bus Service in Punjab is a clear example of his massive corruption. A similar bus service in Ahmedabad (India) cost the government Rs. 230 million per kilometer, while in China, the cost came in at Rs. 420 million per kilometer. But Shahbaz Sharif has squandered Rs 1.10 billion per kilometer for the construction of the Metro Line, bearing ample testimony to their corruption. The Nandipur Power Project is another classic case of their graft. The National Accountability Bureau is hand in glove with them so they are not taking action and are instead providing them protection.
Shahbaz Sharif is so ego-centric that he does not believe in decentralisation of power. Punjab is a bigger province but the local governments have yet to be made functional. The district governments have already been rendered toothless through incorporating various amendments into the local government ordinance. Instead of delegating authority to the elected representatives, he is empowering the district coordination officer with administrative and financial authority who would be a linchpin at the district level and under whom the elected representative would have to work.
The eight-year performance of the Shahbaz Sharif government is a tale of flopped schemes. All his projects proved huge failures. The Sasti Roti Scheme, the Ashiyana Housing Scheme, the Yellow Cab Scheme, the Nandipur Power Project, the Quaid-e-Azam Solar Power Project etc, all caused losses of billions of rupees to the national exchequer and damaged Punjab. I would give minus 100 marks to this government.