The provincial government of Punjab intends to renovate the province and bring it to model status by spending “billions of rupees” from public sources on the welfare of people. Additionally, around Rs 93 billion have been allocated for southern Punjab in order to address infrastructural needs and basic amenities for people in the region. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif claimed that through honesty and diligence, Punjab is to be made an ideal province replete with progress and development. He pointed to the apparently resounding success of the metro buses in Lahore and vowed to introduce the same reforms in other parts of the province. Furthermore, he congratulated the government on maintaining cleanliness in the provincial capital under the joint efforts of Pak-Turkey authorities.
This is not to demerit the obvious accomplishments brought forth by the Chief Minister and his designated representatives but to highlight the difference between a change in aesthetics and a change in structural progress. While, indeed, we have witnessed a rapid change in sights around Lahore – it’s cleaner and greener with efficient commutes such as the Metro for students and workers – we still have to see a definite change in the life quality of those who live on the periphery of society, namely poverty stricken citizens and their families. To assume that they have been empowered by the government would equate to being in denial.
In the light of the 18thAmendment, the departments of education and police fall under the provincial government. At this very moment, more than a change in the appearances of cities, we need reforms in our educational curriculum along with a desperate need to improve the performance of our police forces in issues involving law and order. Until these primary social issues are addressed, billions of rupees will fail to achieve the goal.