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Nawaz Sharif Sits in on Punjab Government Meetings

Punjab C.M., her father decide to establish underground train project in Lahore, expand metro buses to three more cities of province

by Staff Report

Screengrab of one of the meetings chaired by Punjab C.M. Maryam Nawaz and her father, Nawaz Sharif

Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) leader Nawaz Sharif, who is an elected MNA, on Monday chaired three administrative meetings of the Punjab government alongside his daughter, Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz, drawing controversy over his capacity to do so as he holds no official position in either the provincial or federal government.

In an official statement, the provincial government said the former prime minister issued directions to ministers and officials after being briefed on various matters. In the first meeting to review the prevailing utility prices, Sharif questioned the continuous hike in rates of electricity and gas on directions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and questioned how this process could be stopped.

Referring to rampant inflation, he questioned how long the nation’s patience could be tested and urged authorities to resolve the problem of expensive electricity for small farmers by providing them solar panels. He also said small farmers should be rewarded for their hard work and saved from exploitation of big farmers and millers. The chief minister, meanwhile, called a comprehensive plan for providing solar panels to farmers in Punjab and decided, in principle, that the government would give farmers solar panels for tube-wells. She vowed that farmers would be provided modern machinery and drip irrigation would be introduced to save water and reduce costs. She called for the formulation of a comprehensive strategy to check the mafia selling fertilizers at inflated rates.

Provincial ministers Marriyum Aurangzeb, Azma Bukhari, and Bilal Akbar, MPA Sania Ashiq, the provincial chief secretary, Planning and Development Board chairman, Transport secretary and other officials concerned also attended the meeting.

In a separate meeting on various infrastructure projects, Sharif and the Punjab C.M. called for a plan to develop an underground train project in Lahore. They also agreed, in principle, to expand the metro bus project to three more cities of the province.

During the meeting, the PMLN leader urged the provincial government to increase the number of bikes for students, stressing monthly instalments for such vehicles should be kept at a minimum. Similarly, he said, bus fare for the public should also be fixed at the lowest possible rate.

According to an official statement, the meeting was informed 19,000 petrol and 1,000 electric bikes would be given to students on monthly instalments without any interest. The instalment for petrol bikes would be less than Rs. 5,000/month, while that of e-bikes would be less than Rs. 10,000/month, it was told. Additionally, the briefing maintained 70 percent of the quota in villages was reserved for male students, while 30 percent was for women. C.M. Nawaz ordered authorities concerned to announce the schedule for applications for the bikes before Eidul Fitr.

The meeting was also informed that 300 hybrid diesel buses would be bought for Lahore; 78 for Rawalpindi; 100 for Multan; 110 for Faisalabad; and 42 for Bahawalpur. Additionally, 27 electric buses would be operated in Lahore.

In a third meeting, Sharif praised his daughter’s government for successfully launching the Ramzan relief program. The meeting decided to set up civic administration centers in three cities and grant them police powers to control price hikes.

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