LAHORE - A meeting of the provincial cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif here on Monday approved restoration of job quota for three divisions of southern Punjab.

The cabinet has restored 20 percent quota in government jobs for Bahawalpur, Multan and Dera Ghazi Khan divisions in addition to districts of Bhakkar and Mianwali. The meeting also approved renaming the Punjab Coalmining Company as Punjab Mineral Company.

Addressing the meeting, the chief minister said that public welfare and development of southern Punjab was his priority and the PML-N government had taken unprecedented steps for development in the region. Provision of 36 percent of resources for 31 percent of population is part of this commitment, he said. He said that people of the region were fully benefiting from the mega projects completed at a cost of billions of rupees and this will continue in future as well.

Provincial ministers, advisers, special assistants, chief secretary and inspector general of police attended the meeting.

Later, talking to ministers and party legislators who called on him here on Monday, the chief minister said that development in southern Punjab and economic uplift of people of that part of Punjab was focus of his public service mission.

“I hold people of southern Punjab very close to my heart and I have always given special attention to development of that part of Punjab. The pace of development in entire southern Punjab has been expedited and the PML-N government has provided resources to this area on a priority basis. As a result, southern Punjab is presenting picture of a developed area. Providing rights to people of southern Punjab is my responsibility and I will fulfill it at any cost,” the chief minister said. He said the past rulers badly ignored southern Punjab and those who have raised the slogan of southern Punjab province should first search their own soul.

Federal and provincial ministers and members of national and provincial assemblies discussed in detail the ongoing development programmes in southern Punjab. They praised Shehbaz Sharif for taking steps for development and prosperity of the southern region. That is why southern Punjab has reached close to central Punjab in terms of development, they said.

Separately, Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who is also president of the ruling PML-N, condemned the killing of innocent Kashmiris at the hands of Indian forces in Held Kashmir. He said that humanity was ashamed of the worst kind of atrocities that tyrant Indian army had unleashed on the youth, women and children in the Valley. But these atrocities and brutality of the worst order by the Indian forces cannot shake the determination of the Kashmiri people in the occupied Kashmir, the chief minister said in a statement here.

The Indian security forces have intensified the oppression of the unarmed Kashmiris. At least 14 people have been martyred in a span of 36 hours in an ongoing wave of violence, including 10 youth in Shopian District. If this gross violation of human rights cannot wake up conscience of the world community from deep slumber, what else will, he asked.

Shehbaz Sharif said held Kashmir today presents picture of a living hell where humanity is ashamed on a daily basis by the Indian occupation forces. He said the whole valley is up in arms against the Indian brutalities. The Kashmiri youth are filled with the resolve to get their right to self-determination sanctioned by the UN, he added. The question is: can India rob the Kashmiris of their dreams through the use of pallet guns and bullets? Can it continue to subjugate a nation that is prepared to render any sacrifice for their fundamental rights? How long will the world continue to look the other way as Kashmir burns? An international order that upholds morality and supports the just causes enjoys the legitimacy and ownership, he said. It is an article of faith with me that Kashmiris’ struggle for self-determination will inspire the future generations and will be taught as a legend in the history books. Such is the force of conviction and belief in the destiny against one of the mightiest armies of the world, added Shehbaz.

“I condemn the Indian brutalities in the strongest possible words and pay my homage to the Kashmiri people who have the moral, political and diplomatic support of not just Pakistan but also of all the civilized people around the world. Their dream of freedom from the Indian occupation will certainly be realized one day,” he added. “I believe it is high time for the world community to be alive to the atrocities being perpetuated on the Kashmiris by India. The cost of studied silence is too heavy to bear,” concluded Shehbaz Sharif.

In his message on the eve of International Thalassaemia Day, the chief minister said that thalassaemia was a hereditary disease and children suffering from this disease deserved special attention. He said that purpose of observing this day is to raise public awareness about safety and prevention of this disease in the society. He emphasized that coordinated efforts are needed to combat this fatal disease and added that the Punjab government has ensured best healthcare facilities to thalassaemia patients.

Earlier, PTI leader and former MNA Sardar Kamil Umar and Sardar Aqil Umar called on Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and joined the PML-N.

PML-N leader Sardar Adil Umar was also present on the occasion. The chief minister welcomed Sardar Kamil and Sardar Aqil into the party and said that politics of PML-N was based on public service.