United States of Punjab?
Big brother is winning. Should we be concerned?
There’s something happening in the province of Punjab that is not happening elsewhere: serious work. But some people fear the galloping disparity between the largest province and the others will feed into the feeling of alienation — for all the wrong reasons.
As 2016 dawns upon us, there is no doubt that Punjab is years (perhaps even decades) ahead of other provinces in overall development. Say what you may but Shahbaz Sharif has taken his province into a different league. Lahore is arguably the most developed city in Pakistan, and the gap continues to widen.
Karachi popular, Lahore and Islamabad fail to match
Yes there’s the usual (and justified criticism) about infrastructure trumping human development priorities in Punjab, but let’s hold that thought for a bit and look at what’s unfolding in Punjab at breakneck speed.
“As I drove from Karachi to Lahore,” says a Karachiite, “and crossed over into Punjab after Sukkur, it seemed to me like I had entered another country.” The gentleman narrating his impression anything but a political partisan: “The roads suddenly became better, traffic got more organised and even the surroundings seemed better.”
Slight exaggeration? Perhaps. But not by much. Compared to Lahore, Karachi is an urban decay. Potholed roads, cratered highways, unkempt sidewalks, dusty environs, garbage-strewn streets, clogged drains and a free-for-all traffic mayhem made worse by ineffectual policing.
And then the slight matter of street crime and law and order. And fear. And insecurity. Yes, it’s better now since the Rangers took charge, but that’s despite the government, not because of it.
The interior of Sindh? Balochistan? Even Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) despite some impressive reforms by the PTI government? Not a patch on Punjab (and especially the central and northern regions).
10 reasons why we love Karachi
Work is getting done. That’s what is happening in Punjab. From impressive infrastructure development to public transport systems, modern traffic management and even model-pushcarts that will have a standardised format and hygiene-checked food — all this and much more is being pushed through by the provincial government with an eye on 2018. Then there’s the clean drinking water project, as well as the Punjab IT board that is integrating technology into the arteries of the government with interesting results. There is a rush to get things done.
Bricks and mortar do define progress in Punjab. This is a progress no other province can match. But bricks and mortar do not a future make.
The Sharifs’ obsession with highways, bridges and flyovers could end up being their weakness. Till very recently, their defenders would shrug off this criticism and parrot lines about economy and foreign investment. But something changed a few months back.
In the Centre and in Punjab, there appears to be a deliberate emphasis on promoting and projecting efforts aimed at the social sectors. The prime minister is now often heard talking about the importance of education, and recently inaugurated new educational projects in the federal capital. Earlier this week, he also launched the National Health Programme, which aims at providing affordable health care to underprivileged citizens. His younger brother, meanwhile, is aggressively pursuing education and health projects and pushing for reform in these sectors.
Why this new-found focus on the social sector? Could it be the need to change the perception that the brothers only care about big, visible projects? Could it be the pressure from Imran Khan who has always prioritised social progress over bricks and mortar? Could it be a genuine desire to fix the broken health and education sectors? Or perhaps, just perhaps, they have realised that in the long run what really matters is how educated, empowered and skilled the citizens of a country are.
Why Lahore is better than Karachi today
In any case, the transformation in thinking — or perceived thinking — was long overdue. In Punjab now, massive amounts of money is being pumped into these sectors. Given the inefficiencies built into the system, there will be much financial leakage, and many impressive projects will never see the light of day beyond the files — yet there is relentless pressure on the government machinery to deliver results. Donor funds are flowing in, along with consultants, experts and advisers.
At a recent meeting, the Punjab chief minister was informed that 110,000 teachers need to be hired till 2018, which means hiring 37,000 teachers every year to meet the shortage. In addition, there currently exists a shortage of 60,000 classrooms in the province, and the construction is being funded by donors. Student retention is a major problem in Punjab (and elsewhere too) even though official figures claim that student attendance and teacher presence have improved marginally over the last year.
Ask over-eager bureaucrats in Lahore about progress in these areas and they will whip out their multi-coloured presentations. It is their job to paint rosy pictures and make their boss happy. There is much in these numbers, graphs and charts that does not bear resemblance to reality on the ground. The quality of education being taught to children in government schools is pathetic by acceptable standards. The Sharifs may have finally come around to focusing on the social sectors, but they left it really late.
But here’s the key: Punjab means business. A donor agency high-up says he has worked extensively with both the Punjab and K-P governments on education, and he feels both governments genuinely want to improve the status of education in their respective provinces. “The difference is the man on top,” he says. “Shahbaz Sharif is the driving force while Pervez Khattak is well-meaning but laidback.” He says the K-P bureaucracy runs circles around their chief minister while in Punjab it’s the other way round.
Why Lahore is the best get away for a Karachiite
Do the Sharifs skew the system in their favour? Absolutely. Does it help that one brother is the prime minister? Sure does. Do the beneficiaries of progress in Punjab care about this? Probably not.
But one thing is clear: at this rate, the progress gap between Punjab and the rest of the country will keep increasing till it may become dangerous. Dangerous? Well, that’s how some people see it. They fear a highly developed Punjab will cast dark shadows over the federation. The gap would allow incompetent politicians in other provinces to cry foul, and accuse Punjab of appropriating a disproportionate level of resources at the expense of others.
Nothing could be more unfortunate. Punjab may have taken some undue advantages but Sindh and Balochistan suffer because of the acute incompetence of their rulers. K-P has done better, yet Punjab is not to blame for most of its woes. But sadly, perceptions often trump reality, and it may yet turn out that solid progress in Punjab may in the end be held against it.
How the Brothers Sharif tackle this perceived sense of deprivation will say a lot about their political skills — and their prospects in 2018.
gulraiz55 last edited by
خوشی کی بات ہے کہ کہیں تواس ملک میں جدید ترقی ہے - اگرہرشہرترقی کرے توملک ترقی کرتاہے - اگرہرشہرمیں اسکول کالج فیکٹریاں اورانڈسٹری ہوتوکیابات ہے - ایسے ہی توہوتاہے ترقی یافتہ ممالک میں - یہ نہیں کہ اگرملتان جیسے شہرمیں جاویدہاشمی کومعمولی سا اسٹروک ہو تواسے ائیرلفٹ کرکے دوسرے شہرلایاجائے- توپھرعام آدمی کاسوچ لیں کہ اسے کیاکدوملتاہوگا--یاملک کے مختلف شہروں میں لوگوں کوصاف پانی ملتاہے یا یرقان زدہ پانی
ایک اہم مسئلہ یہ ہے کہ پنجاب میں لوگ زیادہ مذہبی ہوتے ہیں اورجب وہ پڑھہ لکھکرکامیاب زندگی گذارنے لگتے ہیں تووہ اسے اللہ کی دین سمجھکرمزید مذہبی ہوجاتے ہیں - اوروہ اس بات کے حامی ہوجاتے ہیں کہ ملک میں مکمل اسلامی نظام ہوناچاہئیے اورپھروہ اسکی حمایت میں آخرحد تک چلے جاتے ہیں - حالیہ دنوں میں سامنے آنے والے کیسز اس بات کا منہ بولتاثبوت ہیں - اسکا مقابلہ اگرمیں سندھہ میں رہنے والے دونوں لسانی طبقوں یعنی سندہی اوراردوبولنے والوں سے کروں توان میں ایسانہیں ہے ، وہ بھی خاصے مذہبی ہوتے ہیں خاص طورسے اردوبولنے والے مگروہ اس حد تک جنونی نہیں ہوجاتے - ایسانہیں ہوتاکہ پڑھی لکھی اردواورسندہی بولنے والی خواتین بچوں سمیت شام فرارہوجائیں کہ اسلامی نظام حکومت میں رہناعین کارثواب ہے - یہی ایک بڑی خرابی ہے جوپنجاب اورسرحد میں بدرجہء اتم ہے اوریہ انتہائی خطرناک ہے کیاآپلوگوں نے کبھی اسپرغورکیاہے ، یہ بالکل ایسے ہی ہے کہ ٹھنڈے ٹھنڈے درخت لگانے کے بعد انمیں آگ لگادی جائے
sulaiman-dar last edited by
The gist of this article that I get from the author:
Since I am incompetent, inept, corrupt to the core and unable to deliver to my people hence you should also be the same.
ghost-protocol last edited by
Punjab for sure is comparatively better looked after province. Punjabis perhaps are more sincere to their province, may be more competent, less corrupt too.
But biggest reason for better Punjab is, there is no other "Punjab" to suck the blood from Punjab. Unfortunately, others provinces don't have this advantage.
sulaiman-dar last edited by
Perhaps the only sin of Punjab is that it is not just the most populous province but almost 60% of the entire country in term of the population.
The "blood sucking" mantra is only a ploy used by the ethno-centric parties to garner support among their followers. This is indeed their raison d'être.
"But biggest reason for better Punjab is, there is no other "Punjab" to suck the blood from Punjab"
But if there was, all the sucked things from Punjab will be siphoned out to Edgware Road London rather than used for the other Province!
How can one deny leadership that Punjab provides.
Soon there will might be requirement to take bait of Caliph from Punjab or get your head chopped.
Then bloggers will say you have to follow the law of the land or leave it.
There is an element of religiosity in Punjab but I am not sure if it's as intense as you described. Army is definitely very popular in Punjab perhaps more than smaller provinces. When Army fight there battles through religious militias Punjabis are naturally sucked into those. If our Army takes secular route Punjabis will be very secular too.
Soon there will might be requirement to take bait of Caliph from Punjab or get your head chopped.
When Iranis did that you called that revolution. Why Punjabi revolution is itching you?
I am Pakistani and Pakistan interests me.
I suppose since you are from Shiraz, Iran you need to bring Iran all the time. Iran revolution really dashed your hope in getting employed by Savak or maybe part of Shah's entourage. Maybe you should join an Iranian blog.
"Then bloggers will say you have to follow the law of the land or leave it."
Laws of the land are made by the Parliament (that is why the members of the assembly are called Law Makers ??) and if the law of the land is "Bait of Caliph" then you must obey the law of the land or stay in America till you get the citizenship!!!
"Laws of the land are made by the Parliament"
News to me that IS and their Kalifat has a parliament elected by citizens.
You must have personal experience in Raqqa or Mosul. Those Yazidi women must not be telling truth, since you are authority on truth.
"How can one deny leadership that Punjab provides.
Soon there will might be requirement to take bait of Caliph from Punjab or get your head chopped."
If Baiet of Khilafat is taken by Punjab, it becomes the law of the land and if you do not like it you will have to leave the country. Alternatively, stay in America till you get your citizenship.
I don't support or defend theocracy, Shia or Sunni unlike you who labels Shia theocracy and bloodbath as revolution and wars a secular hat to go after Sunni theocracy. BTW I bring up Iran to expose your strong sectarian roots and double standards and I think I still bring up Iran less than you bring up Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).
"If Baiet of Khilafat is taken by Punjab, it becomes the law of the land and if you do not like it you will have to leave the country. "
Am I correct that in your opinion those living under IS in Ruqqa and Mosul should not complain about being raped and executed for not accepting bait. Just confirming.
"I don't support or defend theocracy"
In case of execution of Sheikh, you fully supported theocracy ruling of KSA.
You are in big denial or besides being hypocrite also have disease of denying facts.
"Am I correct that in your opinion those living under IS in Ruqqa and Mosul should not complain about being raped and executed for not accepting bait. Just confirming."
No, you are not correct. All I say that a citizen of a country within the laws of that country and if the citizen does not like the laws he has the option of leaving the country.
In your example, if Laws does not permit rape then those who are raped have every right to complain and protest and I will be in their support.
"In your example, if Laws does not permit rape then those who are raped have every right to complain and protest and I will be in their support."
But under the Caliphate of Abubakr al baghdadi in ISIS territories men are allowed to have sex with non consenting women who are not their wife. Also, whosoever doesn't obey caliph his head is chopped. That's law under his caliphate.
Do you protest in the support of those who are on the receiving end of Isis laws or you don't care since you accept all laws of the land however they were created.
Concentrate, focus, read slowly and comprehend:
"That's law under his caliphate."
I do not like the law and that is why I do not live there.
"since you accept all laws of the land however they were created."
I accept and obey laws of the land where I live and if I did not like the laws, I will leave the land and live in another land, the laws of which are acceptable to me.
"I accept and obey laws of the land where I live and if I did not like the laws, I will leave the land and live in another land, the laws of which are acceptable to me."
So you must like and obey the laws of don't use hand held device while driving and always drive under the limit.
But how come you use abusive language on this forum, isn't that against the rules of this blog.
"But how come you use abusive language on this forum, isn't that against the rules of this blog."
Do I use abusive language? My ID is not Lota!
I do make critical and sarcastic comments but not abusive.
Now again concentrate, read slowly and comprehend.
If as you say, I was doing something against the Forum Rules, the management of the Forum will have taken action against me. In absence of any punishment, it is safe to assume that I have not broken rules of the Forum!!