FAISALABAD: The district administration is alleged to have forced people to buy tickets for a friendly cricket match to contribute to the ‘IDP fund’.

Sources told Dawn the district government collected millions of rupees by arranging a friendly cricket match for which it sold tickets through patwaris, TMOs, encroachment inspectors and employees of other departments. Even parliamentarians were asked to sell tickets, they added.

A parliamentarian, requesting anonymity, told Dawn that tickets of Rs200,000 had been given to MPAs and Rs400,000 to MNAs. He said many of his colleagues, together with government employees, had to meet the ticket sale targets by urging people to buy them.

He said many people took exception to the government approach as they said they were already burdened by inflation.

“How the district government can win confidence of the chief minister by adopting wrong approaches,” he expressed annoyance.

The match was played at Iqbal Stadium on July 24 last and State Minister for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali and Punjab Law Minister Rana Mashhood gave away prizes. The district government sold three bats inscribed with the autographs of cricket legends after the match.

Pakistan People’s Party District President Tariq Bajwa hit out at the regime and alleged “the funds being collected in the name of IDPs are actually going to the bank accounts of the Sharif brothers”. He said people were coerced into paying money for IDPs at the revenue offices.

Saying that patwaris had been given targets to sell tickets, he wondered why the Supreme Court was not taking a suo motu notice. “I also paid to a patwari to buy a ticket,” he claimed.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf District Secretary Rana Javed Ashraf said the transport operators also were a victim to district government’s tactics. Officials had issued tickets to terminal owners who were making wagon crew pay Rs350 for each turn.

District Coordination Officer Noorul Amen Mengal denied that tickets were forcibly sold to people. He said tickets were sold at the eight booths set up outside the stadium.

There was a huge demand by the public for the match and a good number of people had to go back due to a lack of space in the stadium, he claimed.

Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2014

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