Mian Shahbaz Sharif, Chief Minister of Punjab for the third time, was a foregone conclusion. On Thursday, he bagged a record number of 300 votes, beating the previous highest by tens of votes, thus, showing that he not only enjoyed the confidence of the PML-N members of the provincial assembly, but other political parties also supported his candidature. His rival PTI’s Mahmoodur Rashid received 34 votes. In his address to the house later, he spelled out, as is customary on such occasions, his government’s programme of his tenure. He vowed to lift the province out of the darkness that enveloped it on account of the shortage of power, as his government’s first priority; for he characterised loadshedding as the real bane of life in its different manifestations. The measures he announced to get over the crisis and numerous other challenges the province faced suggested that a lot of serious and innovative thinking had gone into devising them. Let us have a look at them. He intends making available solar energy to run the tubewells of all those farmers possessing 12.5 acres of land at subsidised rates over a period of five years. He would build Nandipur and Chichokimalian power stations and take quick action on the feasibility report prepared by a foreign firm to exploit local coal reserves for the production of electricity. The power sector was blighted, Mian Shahbaz bemoaned, by an annual huge theft of Rs 207 billion as well as the stealth of oil and gas running also into billions of rupees. Resultantly, there was not enough money to pay to the power producing units to buy the required fuel, and what was commonly known as circular debt kept mounting. At present it stood at Rs 500 billion.

Other than power shortage, he touched on other pressing issues: education, health, housing, thana, kutchery and patwari cultures that worked to deny justice to the people, the use of country’s own resources and austerity. While loadshedding, understandably, gets on everyone’s nerves, these issues, no less important for progress and prosperity, keep adding to the common man’s woes. Mian Shahbaz would effect radical changes in the education system. Health would get an equal priority. Rapid steps would be taken to rid the judicial and thana systems of their evils. Shining Punjab that would be a role model for Pakistan and also the world would be the outcome as Mian Sahib’s government enforced austerity in official spending and brought to use our own resources (a possible reference to tax reforms to generate more funds) and successfully completed his agenda listed above. It appears a tall order, a formidable task. But nothing is unattainable given the needed dynamism and enthusiasm.