LAHORE - Following is the text of Shahbaz Sharif’s speech he made in Punjab Assembly on June 6:

Bismillah Irrahmanirrahim!

Mr Speaker! Today is the day we bow before Almighty Allah in utter gratefulness for having been granted this respect and honor. Now it is our collective responsibility to remove darkness from the lives of ten crore people of Punjab, who have elected this august house through their votes and prayers. Pakistan and the Punjab Province have started their journey towards a bright future.

Mr Speaker! I also want to congratulate you on having been elected the Speaker of the House again with a thumping majority. I and respectable members of my party assure you that we would stand shoulder to shoulder with you to enable you to run the House in an amicable manner. I also congratulate Leader of the Opposition Mian Mahmood ur Rasheed and his companions who have been elected by the people of their constituencies while his party has nominated him as Leader of the Opposition. I assure Mian Mahmood ur Rasheed of cooperation in making this elected house a dignified forum besides solving the problems facing the people of Punjab and meeting other formidable challenges. I and the members of my party know that we have to collectively meet these challenges in order to make both Punjab and Pakistan, progressive and prosperous. I consider the confidence which has been reposed in me by this august House, a blessing of Almighty Allah and assure you that I would never let you down.

Mr Speaker! Now that elections are over and speeches have been delivered, it is time to work collectively as Pakistan and Punjab are facing the biggest problem of loadshedding which has brought the economy of Pakistan to the brink of disaster. Our agriculture has been weakened, because there is no electricity to operate tube wells, while diesel has become extremely expensive. Similarly, prices of fertilizers have also gone beyond the reach of the poor farmers. Due to loadshedding, our industry and factories have stopped working, due to which thousands of workers have been rendered unemployed.  Our export sector has been badly hit while foreign exchange reserves of Pakistan have dwindled from 16 billion dollars to 5 billion dollars which is a sign of danger. In short, Pakistan is facing the biggest challenges today as its roots have been shaken by the energy crisis. I request the House to work jointly to meet these problems and challenges of the day without any discrimination of being on the government benches or of the opposition, in order to bring the nation out of darkness and to brighten the future of our children. In order to solve problem of loadshedding we would have to work on war-footing and utilize our collective wisdom, energies and resources because, no other alternative is available for progress and prosperity of Punjab.

Mr Speaker! There is also a circular debt of Rs. 500 billion, which can also be called a vicious circular debt. There is also an issue of electricity theft of Rs. 207 billion. What would be the fate of the nation which is already burdened by loans to the tune of 60 billion dollars while its future is also being endangered by electricity theft to the tune of 207 billion rupees as well as that of oil and gas? Furthermore, various institutions of federation and four provinces have to make payment of billions of rupees to PEPCO and WAPDA. These are very serious issues.

Mr Speaker! With the grace of Allah Almighty, the government of Pakistan Muslim League (N) has also now been established in the federation and, through this august House, I want to assure people of Punjab that we would not rest content until darkness of load-shedding is removed, and for this purpose we would work day and night, and utilize all our energies. I have told the federal government that provinces would extend their full cooperation as the provincial governments have to play their due role in elimination of electricity theft. I have assured the federation that all legal steps would be taken by Punjab administration and Police to curb electricity theft for which indiscriminate action would be taken, as it is our national responsibility and we owe it to our coming generations.

Mr Speaker! Our finance minister would delineate in detail, at the time of the budget, how electricity would be generated in the province with the help of federation at Nandi Pur and Chichu ki Malian. The project has already cost Rs. 60 billion, but the plant is rusting at Karachi Port. Expeditious contacts with the Chinese companies are being made to complete it as early as possible, which would generate over 400 megawatt electricity. Similarly, 700MW electricity is being transmitted outside Punjab and the process is still continuing. The decisions of the Council of the Common Interest are there, and two former Prime Ministers of previous government, had made these decisions under their chairmanship but did not implement them. We would endeavour to get these decisions implemented. Similarly an Australian company has completed its feasibility report regarding coal reserves, around Jehlum, during the last two years. We would try to generate electricity on its basis by making active efforts.

Mr Speaker! I want to point out that agriculture is the backbone of the economy of Pakistan and Punjab, without which Pakistan can never achieve progress and prosperity. We have decided that during our present term we would provide solar tube-wells at subsidized rates to the farmers having twelve and half acres of land. Water is essential for irrigation of land. Solar propelled tube-well technology is well-established in China and Europe, and we would also work on this project on war footing. We would allocate billions of rupees in provincial budget every year to provide solar propelled tube-wells, to the farmers having twelve and half acres of land in Punjab.

Mr Speaker! I want to point out that one and half years ago we initiated Land Record Management System in Punjab and land record in Hafizabad has been completely computerized. Similarly, this work has been completed in many other Tehsils in Punjab. I assure Mian Mahmood ur Rasheed, Leader of the Opposition that Patwari Culture would completely be eliminated from Punjab in the year 2014. This great project was initiated by us and work was commenced at first in three districts. As we all know that the roots of Thana Culture and Patwari Culture are very strong. One has to face a lot of resistance in every field in which one moves. Now we would have to look towards the present and the future, rather than the past. Even World Bank has appreciated our expeditious activities in this regard. Computerizing Revenue Record of only three districts is not much as we would have to complete this work in all the 36 districts of Punjab. The World Bank was impressed by this work and provided further billions of rupees, due to which work in 36 districts, throughout Punjab, is continuing and will be completed next year. This computerization would help in eliminating Patwari Culture and providing common man ownership deed without greasing the palm of anyone.

Mr. Speaker! Education is the top priority as it is a must for achieving progress and prosperity. I assure you that we would, by the Grace of Allah Almighty, continue our efforts, whether they are concerning Daanish Schools, laptop distribution, establishment of universities or medical colleges.

Mr Speaker! With the grace of Allah Almighty, we would take further revolutionary steps in the field of education, during the next five years. A commission of a British Institution, has recently published a report according to which thousands of boys and girls have attended skill courses on stitching, motor mechanic, electrician, IT expert and other sectors under Skills Development Programme, in four districts of South Punjab. The British Government and Punjab Government have forged partnership of billions of rupees in these courses. The commission has pointed out that the revolutionary changes, which have been brought in the education field in Punjab, can be presented as role model for the whole world.

Mr Speaker! I want to announce that the field offices of the departments throughout 36 districts of Punjab have thousands of acres of land lying useless. I announce that spare land of offices or residences available in 36 districts of Punjab, would be acquired, and utilized for the prosperity of ten crore people of Punjab. I assure you that such land would be utilized for construction of schools, colleges or universities. We would have to bring about an equitable academic system and would utilize billions of rupees on providing missing facilities and for constructing more colleges and universities in the province.

Mr. Speaker! I have no hesitation in saying that acquisition of justice is also a big problem. Unfortunately, justice is sold in Kutchehries and Police Stations. We would be deceiving ourselves, if we did not face this reality. I had appointed DPOs, RPOs, DCOs and Commissioner level officers, after carefully selecting them and, with the grace of Allah, I can say that, more than 90 percent of those officers were honest and dutiful. Unfortunately, the conditions at Thana level have not been changed. We made our fullest efforts and did our best but good governance is the name of continuous struggle for achieving the best for the people.

Mr Speaker! Provision of justice is not the issue of a single party, but a common agenda. Let us join hands to ensure justice to ten crore people of province, for which all suggestions would be welcomed. In order to bring about a change in Kutchehri culture, we would also request and contact honourable Chief Justice of Lahore high Court. A team of our officers would sit along with his team to think as to how we can provide justice to the common man in Kutchehris and to bring about change in Ketchehri and Thana culture for which we would seek his guidance and would provide all necessary resources.

Mr Speaker! For the first time in the history of the province, an internship programme was initiated. Over more than 50 thousand degree holders complain that they have degrees, but do not get a respectable and dignified job. They say that they want to serve Pakistan, but do not get such opportunities. We initiated an internship programme, worth Rs.2 billion, along with initiating a training programme, which would be made further meaningful by providing them training and jobs in the private sector.

Mr Speaker! We would encourage private sector to step forward, whether this is the internship programme or low-income housing scheme. As you are well aware by the Grace of Allah Almighty, we initiated Aashiyana Housing Scheme during our previous tenure in Lahore, Sahiwal, Sargodha and Faisalabad. The network of Aashiyana Housing Scheme would, now be extended all over Punjab. The Aashiyana Housing Scheme is being implemented in a transparent manner. The spirit with which this scheme had been launched would soon be spread, throughout Punjab.

Mr Speaker! With regard to investment, we would introduce an industrial and economic policy aimed at providing employment to thousands of people of the province. A sound economic policy would be presented in the house, which would be debated and implemented with full effort. As you are well aware, due to strenuous efforts of our government, we brought investment from Turkey, which is our brotherly country, to Punjab. During our current tenure, Insha Allah, we would also cement our relations with Saudi Arabia, China and Iran to provide further investment opportunities in the province.

Mr Speaker! There are innumerable challenges in the health sector and many difficulties. But I would like to point out that, for the first time in the history of Pakistan, we gave free-of-cost medicines, worth Rs.26 billion, to general patients in DHQs and general wards of THQs hospitals throughout Punjab. Dialysis programme, was stopped by a proud ruler, who said that he did not have money for the kidney pain of a poor person. But it is an honour for us that we re-initiated dialysis programme, due to which every poor person, in every hospital of every district, is now benefiting. The person who had proudly said that he does not have money for dialysis cure is now under house arrest while Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, with the grace of Allah Almighty and votes of the people of Pakistan, has been re-elected as Prime Minister.

Mr Speaker! Pakistan is a God-given country, but unfortunately, even now, there are two Pakistans, one Pakistan belongs to the rich persons, while the other belongs to the poor. In one Pakistan everything is available, while in other Pakistan there is deprivation and fear. Whereas aristocracy, prime minister, president, ministers, politicians, judges, generals, police officers, traders, and investors can get best medical care in Pakistan, a common man cannot get even basic treatment. I want to announce in this respectable house, that we are initiating Health Insurance Card for every poor person, widow, orphan and poor patients. This Health Insurance Card would enable every father and mother to provide their children medical care in any hospital.

Mr Speaker! For the first time in the 65 years’ history of Pakistan we have set up Punjab Education Endowment Fund, with a sum of Rs.10 billion which is providing educational stipends to more than 40 thousand boy and girl students in the province, which have been selected but purely on merit. With the Grace of Allah, when our current five years tenure would end, thousands of these children would have acquired education. I want to inform this august house that, at Pakistan level, Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif is also announcing initiation of Pakistan Education Endowment Fund.

Mr Speaker! We have a burden of 60 billion dollar debt. I assure you that, despite all difficulties, we would utilize each and every penny as a trust of the people, for the benefit of the people. My cabinet, all advisors and special assistants, including me, would present an example of complete simplicity. There would be no flags on our vehicles, or on our houses, while no new furniture would be purchased.

Mr Speaker! Generating national resources is the need of the hour, because we cannot continue with begging bowls in our hands. We have to stand on our feet, because beggars can never be chooser. The dire condition, which we are facing as a nation, is also due to the fact that, wherever we go in the world, we have a begging bowl in our hand. If we do not live our lives with simplicity, we will have no respect and honour in the world. Nobody else can make Pakistan great, but we ourselves. I assure you that my government will have minimum expenditure. I also want to announce that Access to Information Bill would soon be presented in the house which if approved, would lead to display of the expenditure of Punjab government on its website. The leader of opposition, Mian Mehmood-ul-Raheed, all members of this august house and people of Punjab and Pakistan, and of the whole world would have a look at that website and inquire from us where and how that expenditure has been made. For the first time in the history of Pakistan, we would implement this system which is going to make us accountable in the court of people of Pakistan, and ultimately in the court of Allah Almighty.

Mr Speaker! I know it is a long and arduous journey, but I believe that if you have a strong resolve and trust in Allah, than you can achieve a great deal with determination, hard work, trust and honesty. Insha Allah, through our collective efforts and collective wisdom, we would make the province of Punjab, not only a great role model for Pakistan, but a glowing example for the whole world.