LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif yesterday once again criticised the past governments for not focusing on education and health.

“Pakistan would have no problem in any social sectors today, had the past governments discharged their responsibilities honestly towards the public welfare,” the chief minister said while addressing a PEEF ceremony at Awan-i-Iqbal.

“The PML-N government, facing all odds, is rising to the occasion not only to address the public woes but also to provide the masses appropriate facilities in health, education and other sectors,” he added.

Shehbaz Sharif said more than one hundred and seventy five thousand under-privileged but talented students from all over the country are being equipped with education through Punjab Educational Endowment Fund (PEEF), the biggest initiative in the history of Pakistan and South Asia.

Scholarships of Rs7.5 billion have so far been distributed on merit through the income of Rs17.5 billion Educational Endowment Fund. “Had such an educational fund been set up 70 years ago, no child would have remained deprived of education and billions of youth would have been playing their due role in national development,” he regetted.The CM said PEEF has annulled the perception that higher and quality education is the right of elites by providing opportunities to deserving and brilliant students of not only Punjab but of Azad Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan, Sindh, KPK and Baluchistan which is promoting national unity and solidarity as well.

“Punjab Government is well aware of the fact that the fate of this nation lies in the hands of its educated youth so it is paving the way to make its youth productive.”

Shehbaz expressed his anguish over the heinous acts of previous leaderships who plundered national assets and resources mercilessly and left educational institutions, hospitals and other departments in vulnerable condition and this plague of their corruption has erupted into poverty and extremism.

He further said that we have lost our glory and countries. There was a time when Pakistanis could visit Britain and Germany without any visa but now green passport has no respect, he regretted.

Shehbaz said that there is no dearth of talent in the country. “Pakistanis are talented and hard working and we can achieve a respectable place in the comity of nations only through hard work and honesty,” he added.

PEFF vice-chairman Dr Amjad Saqib, while addressing the gathering, said that the Fund is providing scholarships to deserving children of the nation for education. He highlighted in detail the aims and objectives of PEEF.

The PEEF scholars appreciated the educational programme and said that this is helping the children of poor families to get higher education. Such a programme should be continued forever, they highlighted.

They also thanked the CM for launching this fund.

Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan, provincial ministers Syed Raza Ali Gillani, Rana Mashood, vice chancellors, professors, PEEF scholars, educationists, columnists, teachers and parents attended the ceremony.