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MULTAN: Prime Minister Imran Khan Monday said the establishment of South Punjab Secretariat was a step towards new beginning as now, the allocated development funds would be spent on the prosperity of the people of this neglected region.

Addressing a groundbreaking ceremony of South Punjab Secretariat, he said according to statistics, the region consisted of 33 percent population of Punjab, but in the past only 17 percent of the budget allocation was made to it.

Due to reallocation of uplift funds, about Rs260 billion losses were incurred in these areas due to poor policies of the previous provincial governments, he added.

The prime minister said they had also decided that South Punjab would get its due job quota according to its size and population. All the regional issues would be resolved in secretariat, he added.

The ceremony was attended by the ministers including Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Khusru Bakhtiar, Fakhar Imam, Zartaj Gul, provincial ministers and other high officials.

Criticizing self-centered policies of former ruler of Takht-e-Lahore Shehbaz Sharif towards the South Punjab people, the prime minister said he had entered into politics after witnessing that a small segment of ruling elite was enjoying all powers and impunity.

“No law of the land was applicable on them as they frequently indulged in corruption, deals and national reconciliation ordinance. They lived in palatial houses abroad which they purchased through money laundering,” he added.

The prime minister said the ruling elite class had been living in posh areas of London where even a British minister could not afford to purchase a property.

About the deprivation and poverty of South Punjab, the prime minister said he had brought Chief Minister Usman Buzdar to implement his vision in the region.

He wanted a person who preferred to live and die in Pakistan and understood the sufferings of common man and did not go to London on sojourns, he added.

In a veiled reference to former ruling elite, the prime minister said they were doing politics in Pakistan and making investment abroad.

The prime minister said performance of a chief minister was judged on the basis of how much he had elevated the weaker segments of the society and lauded Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar for making efforts in that regard.

The prime minister said the royal family of Lahore had spent only on the development of those areas of Lahore where they lived whereas his government focused on the development of merged tribal areas, interior Sindh and other backward areas of the country.

About other achievements, the prime minister said even the richest countries could not afford to roll out health insurance to all of their populations.

He said the Punjab chief minister had been striving to ensure health insurance to all residents of the province by the end of current year.

The prime minister said today, they also launched Kisan Card in the Punjab province and it was for the first time that anyone thought of the small farmers.

He said the UNDP report indicated that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government had spent hugely on the human development, which helped in poverty reduction and bridging the gap between the rich and the poor.

The prime minister drawing a parallel between the performance of Usman Buzdar and Shehbaz Sharif, sarcastically pointed out that a ‘Bollywood actor’ (Shehbaz Sharif) while donning a hat and wearing boots got himself snapped only for personal projection.

The previous rulers were restricted only to publication of media advertisements for their self projection, he added.

About Islamophobia in the West, the prime minister said he would prove that his strategy would be successful in countering the issue.

With the cooperation of heads of Islamic countries and through a joint approach, they would go to the European Union and the United Nations asking them that they could not hurt the sentiments of 1.25 billion Muslims in the garb of freedom of expression.

It was the only way, he said, through which they would effectively counter the future incidents in Europe. While on the other hand, the TLP tried to invade Islamabad through setting riots, he added.

On the occasion, Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi said for the first time in the country’s history, change was being brought with laying a foundation stone for the South Punjab.

The decisions of the South Punjab would be made here by the representatives and people of Multan, Bahawalpur and D G Khan, he added.

Qureshi said it was the concept of devolution of power that the people should be given the rights to take their own decisions.

Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar said 33 percent of the provincial budget was allocated for South Punjab whereas about Rs 30 billion worth development projects would be completed in the region. Earlier, the prime minister inaugurated different development projects, including E-Khidmat Markaz, labour housing colony, shelter home, establishment of five Miyawaki forests and others.

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