It is ironic to see opposition and ruling party in a tug-of-war for much awaited operationalization of Pakistan’s first ever Metro Train in Lahore. 

The fine line that defines viability and suitability of the project actually renders narrative division among government and opposition. 

Interestingly, Punjab government is neither interested to take credit nor has been a hurdle in the completion of the project. However, PML-N’s insecurity is causing them huge embarrassment which they probably aren’t aware of. It is understandable how the former Chief Minister Punjab has been in a hurry to complete the project before general elections of 2018. 

Election year is always the toughest for governments, they try to complete all the unfinished projects before the end of their constitutional tenure. No matter how certain they are of their return but they need all these projects on their 5-Year profile.

Previous government has never been proud of any of its projects as it has been for their Orange Line Metro Train. They were so proud that they had its trial run before finishing its civil works completely and way before starting its electrical set up. 

It was not even a trial run technically, but the then chief minister actually projected it like an inauguration ceremony. He was an astute politician and wise enough to assess his inability to complete the project due to time constraints.  He was wise enough to run it on locomotive engine, so that nobody finds out financial dent it causes to provincial kitty on daily basis when it is run on electricity. 

But Buzdar is different, he is not wise like ShehbazSharif but he is the wisest. He has put people before politics and have put differences aside. By completing unfinished projects, he is not just winning over his allies and opposition parliamentarians but also the constituents of these politically hit areas of Punjab

The hefty bill that LESCO sends to the government was never talked about because train wasn’t even ready to have it’s actual trial run on electricity before General Elections 2018. However, Buzdar has proven to be wiser by choosing not to abandon the project which is a routine in Punjab’s politics. One of the smartest move was operationalization of the project because of the two reasons, project was more about Pak-China friendship and CPEC, was more about the public money already invested into the project but less about PML-N. 

For the first time ever in the history of Pakistan, a provincial government is taking ownership of the projects set up by previous governments, projects that have been in shambles due to political reasons and projects worth billions of rupees left in the middle of construction. Just because their completion would give political advantage to former rulers, projects of greater public interest were wasted during the last decade. Buzdar government is funding and completing projects worth Rs1115 billion that were initiated during various previous regimes in the past. It is unfortunate Shehbaz Sharif scrapped various health related projects in Punjab or suspended their funding because of the very same reason.

However, Usman Buzdar is setting new trends, resumption of work on Wazirabad Institute of Cardiology and new building of Punjab Assembly are the major examples. 

Cardiology hospital was built at a cost of Rs3 billion almost 13 years ago, however Punjab Speed couldn’t complete the said project despite of the fact that there was no shortage of funds. 

Seven years later, former Chief Minister inaugurated Lahore Metro Bus, completed at the cost of Rs 30 billion, which actually is ten times of the cost of the cardiology hospital. Nobody stopped them for mega infrastructural projects but nobody stopped them from completing basic health projects. 

According to an ex-chief minister Punjab, almost thirty thousand people died due to non-functioning of the cardiology institute – which was a ray of hope for Wazirabad and nearby districts. 

That’s not it, former government also ignored Burn Unit at Jinnah Hospital and Institute of Neurosurgery for years, we all know how that unfortunate incident of Petrol Tanker blast claimed so many human lives and people weren’t given immediate burn treatment due to shortage of burn units in the province of 110 million population. 

But Buzdar is different, he is not wise like Shehbaz Sharif but he is the wisest. He has put people before politics and have put differences aside. 

By completing unfinished projects, he is not just winning over his allies and opposition parliamentarians but also the constituents of these politically hit areas of Punjab. 

Whether Orange Train proves to be success or not, this is a question that time would tell but Buzdar would never be blamed for scrapping projects of previous rulers. 

Commercialization of train stations and renting advertisement spaces to advertisers can actually help reduce the financial burden. 

Conceiving a viable business plan can make transport sector self-sustainable, which Buzdar is willing to devise in the greater public interest. 

Since, I have talked about an early harvest project under CPEC, it would be unfair if I don’t mention about the backbone of China Pakistan Economic Corridor and that’s none other than our Armed Forces and law enforcing agencies.  Maintaining law and order while eradicating terrorism from the country was crucial for making CPEC an ongoing success story.

CPEC has actually pushed India into an inferiority complex that it can’t get rid of. She has strived to create mess for Pakistan time and time again but all such attempts were foiled by our Armed Forces.  February 27 is the recent example and the pace our CPEC related projects have picked up, Pakistan would emerge as a major player in the region soon. It is likely to assume the role of an economically stable nation, which is as strong (on all fronts) as it has been on the borders.

 

The writer is a journalist from South Punjab, currently based in Connecticut, US