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Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif acknowledges the slogans of supporters after inaugurating the feeder bus service on Thursday.—INP
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif acknowledges the slogans of supporters after inaugurating the feeder bus service on Thursday.—INP

MULTAN: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) announced a Metro Bus Service for Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2014, but despite the passage of three years it has been unable to begin work on it, said Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Thursday.

“Had the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz been in power in KP, we would have completed the project within 11 months,” he said.

Inaugurating the Speedo Bus Service — a feeder bus service for commuters travelling to the Metro Bus Station in Multan — Mr Sharif claimed that no government in the past had envisioned development projects for south Punjab, the way his government had during the last four years. “Such state-of-the-art projects could not even be initiated in Karachi, Peshawar or any other part of the country,” he said.

Lashing out at PTI chairman Imran Khan, he recalled that back in 2013, Mr Khan had made several derisive comments about the Metro Bus project in Lahore, and called it a “jangla bus”.

Smooth democratic system vital to development of country, says Punjab chief minister

The PTI had also spread false propaganda claiming that the project had cost Rs70 billion, whereas its actual cost was around Rs30bn, Mr Sharif said.

Multan is the fourth city after Lahore, Islamabad and Rawalpindi where a Metro Bus Service has been launched. The chief minister said his government was committed to the development and prosperity of south Punjab.

He said the development and prosperity of a country hinged on a smooth democratic system. October 12, 1999 would always be remembered as a black day in the history of the country because a dictator (retired General Pervaiz Mus­harraf) had overthrown a democratically-elected government and halted the democratic process in the country, he said.

The Punjab government had spent billions on the development of south Punjab, the chief minister claimed.

Initially, 100 air-conditioned buses will travel on 11 routes in Multan and an e-ticketing system has been introduced for these buses. “People will be able to travel on the Metro Bus and Speedo Bus by paying a fare of Rs25, while physically-disabled people will also be able to travel on these buses,” he said.

In view of the number patients treated at Nishtar Hospital, Mr Sharif said that work on the Nishtar-II project would begin soon. A safari park will be established in Multan, and work on it will begin as soon as possible.

“The government has already spent Rs85bn on constructing field-to-market roads, subsidies worth billions to farmers, interest-free loans, the first IT University in Rahim Yar Khan and the construction of Khanewal-Lodhran Road is under way,” he said.

The chief minister directed the Metro Bus Service managing director to start the feeder bus service from Chowk Nag Shah to Multan. “Our next destination is Lodhran, where the Speedo bus service will be initiated,” he announced.

Published in Dawn, October 13th, 2017