The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) will “expose the traitors cum politicians” who are switching from one party to another on the instructions of the establishment, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said on Sunday.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony for the Nawaz Sharif Interchange of the Ring Road Package-15 at Bedian, PML-N leaders lashed out at the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) as a party of the establishment, though without naming it.
The chief minister said that allies of General (retired) Pervez Musharraf who supported the Lal Masjid siege, the sacking of the Supreme Court chief justice and drone strikes in Pakistan were now posing as revolutionaries by joining new parties. “The PML-N will expose their faces in front of the people of Pakistan,” he said.
Sharif thanked PML-N leader Khawaja Saad Rafique, who had spoken before him, for raising the slogan of ‘Go Zardari go’, saying he had been criticised by some party leaders when he had shouted the slogan at a rally in Lahore last month. He said that President Asif Zardari should resign in the interest of Pakistan.
He said that Nawaz Sharif had steadfastly resisted American pressure not to test Pakistan’s nuclear bomb back in 1998, even President Bill Clinton’s offer of US$5 billion (Rs446 billion) in aid.
He said that the previous government had embezzled billions of rupees from the Ring Road project, while his government had completed the northern section in just two years. He said that Rs120 million had been allocated for a sewerage system in localities in the Bedian Road area.
Some 5,000 people, most of them from nearby slums and villages, gathered at the site under the leadership of various MPAs to hear the chief minister’s address. They were kept entertained by a horse dance, as well as a chained tiger and a caged lion. A large number of children also roamed the venue holding images of Shahbaz Sharif, though many of them did not know who he was.
MNA Khawaja Saad Rafique said in his address that the PML-N had made mistakes, but they were not traitors. “We are not giving the people of Pakistan false hope,” he said, adding the party would try to persuade “our brother” Javed Hashmi to return to the PML-N. He said that the PML-N was not afraid of confronting “products of the establishment”.
He said that the PTI had made various unfounded allegations against the PML-N, but the PML-N would not do so against the PTI.
The Ring Road Package 15 cost around Rs2.173 billion. The interchange connects Bedian Road, Lidhar, Chachowali, Leel, Charrar Motha Singh, Bakhsheeshpura, Bhatta Chowk, DHA Phases 5 and 9 and Askari 9.
Earlier on Sunday, the chief minister inaugurated a slaughter house at Shahpur Kanjran. The modern abattoir was developed in collaboration with an Iranian firm in 10 months at a cost of around Rs1 billion. Officials of the Iranian consulate and the livestock and health secretaries were also present on the occasion.
Speaking at the ceremony, Sharif said the Lahore Meat Complex was a big step forward for Pakistan’s exports. He said that Muslim countries import billions of dollars worth of meat each year, but very little from Pakistan. Iran, he said, imports $800 million (Rs71.3 billion) worth each year. He said the Punjab government had signed a deal with Iran for meat export worth $160 million (Rs14.3 billion).
He announced a bonus of one month’s pay to staff of the slaughter house for completing the project in just 10 months.
Bus Rapid Transit System
The chief minister also laid the foundation stone for the First Bus Rapid Transit System on Ferozepur Road. In the first phase of the project, 27 kilometres of dedicated bus lanes will be built from Gajju Mata to Shahdara.
He said that 15 kilometres of bus lanes will be built under the project by March. A Turkish firm is helping the government develop a modern bus transport system, he said. The Punjab government has also signed an agreement with a Turkish company in the solid waste management sector.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 26th, 2011.