RAWALPINDI: The unequal distribution of funds in the different constituencies of the garrison city by the PML-N led Punjab government has led to party leaders and residents to feel discriminated against.
Four constituencies – NA-52, NA-54, NA-55 and NA-56- fall directly in the garrison city’s area. In the 2013 general elections, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan won from NA-52 after being defeated in his home constituency in Taxila. Malik Ibrar of the PML-N won from NA-54 and two seats from the main city areas were won by Awami Muslim League (AML) President Sheikh Rashid Ahmed who won in NA-55 and PTI Chairman Imran Khan won from NA-56.
In the new fiscal year of 2016-17, the interior minister’s constituency, NA-52 will get more than Rs2.5 billion worth of development projects from the provincial government while the inner city, from where Sheikh Rashid and Imran Khan won, will not get any.
PTI, AML leaders allege PML-N govt in Punjab is avenging loss of seats in two Pindi constituencies
At a public meeting in Chaklala Scheme-III on May 4, before the announcement of the Punjab budget, the minister had announced a new development project for the fiscal year 2016-17 which would include the construction of a children hospital, graveyard and a sports complex.
Also in May, PML-N MNA Malik Abrar said he will get Rs1 billion from the Punjab government for the construction of a hospital, dispensaries and schools in NA-54. The provincial government allocated money for these schemes in its annual development programme.
PML-N leader and former MNA Hanif Abbasi also launched development projects worth more than Rs1.8 billion for the development of an institute of urology, water supply schemes, schools and colleges in NA-56. He also launched projects including the construction of the Shahbaz Sharif Park and sports grounds in various schools and colleges.
On the other hand, NA-55 which included Raja Bazaar and the downtown area is left neglected because the PML-N could not secure national or provincial seats from this area in the 2013 general elections.
A senior PML-N leader told Dawn that the party’s local leaders and workers were feeling discriminated against because the provincial government was not spending money even on repairing roads in NA-55 and that they felt embarrassed.
He said local leaders of the party had sent in proposals for a sports complex at the Mission High School on Iqbal Road and for renovations at the District Headquarter Hospital, which were not adhered to.
“There is little space in the graveyards in the downtown areas and people have to bury their loved ones in the city graveyards. The proposal for a new graveyard is pending with the office of the district coordination officer, who did not forward the proposal to the provincial government,” he said.
The issue of the graveyard will be solved if the 1,000 acres of land in Rakh Dhamial, which was allocated by former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto for a graveyard in 1994, was converted into one.
A senior PML-N leader told Dawn the local administration wants to develop farms or housing schemes on the land allocated for the graveyard.
When contacted, AML President Sheikh Rashid said that the PML-N government was not allocating money for NA-55 because it wanted to avenge its loss in elections from that constituency.
He said the Punjab budget only included schemes for the development of a few areas in Lahore and that the government was wasting money on unnecessary projects in order to earn commissions.
“The days of the PML-N led government in the centre and the province are numbered and they will get a big setback after Eid,” he warned.
Former PML-N MNA Malik Shakil Awan was also not happy with the party’s policy of ignoring NA-55 when it came to development.
“Locals want to see the Leh Nullah project completed as it will address the water and sanitation problem,” he said.
However, he said, due to interference from politicians in neighbouring constituencies, the government was not that interested in the project.
PTI MPA Arif Abbasi told Dawn that the Punjab government was not interested in the welfare of residents of NA-55 because they had elected a PTI worker to the provincial assembly and Sheikh Rashid for the National Assembly.
He said PML-N was avenging their losses in these constituencies and was therefore doing development work there.
“Encroachments have increased as has water shortage, the gutters are blocked in the garrison city and electricity and gas load shedding are common as well. Excessive billing had forced people to earn money through unfair means,” he said.
Published in Dawn, June 15th, 2016