LAHORE – Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has stressed upon the people to vote for honest and committed leadership in the upcoming general elections to transform Pakistan in accordance with the ideals of Allama Iqbal and Quaid-i-Azam.

Addressing Iqbal Day function, arranged by Nazria-e-Pakistan Trust and Tahrik-e-Pakistan Workers Trust at Alhamra Hall on Sunday, he said that getting rid of ‘zar baba forty thieves’ was necessary to put the country on the right path so that it could join the ranks of developed countries like Turkey and China.

Nazria-e-Pakistan Trust Chairman and TheNation Editor-in-Chief Dr Majid Nizami, former federal minister Shaukat Tarin, Ijazul Haq, Justice (r) Nasira Javed Iqbal, Syed Kabir Ali Shah Gillani, Samia Raheel Qazi, Qayyum Nizami, assembly members, intellectuals, Tehrik-e-Pakistan workers and members of civil society were also present.

Shahbaz Sharif said that present day Pakistan was not like the one conceived by Allama Iqbal, as a nuclear power was looking for dollars with ‘begging bowl in hand’. He said that loot and plunder was rampant and all records of corruption have been broken. He said that it was unfortunate that Pakistan is standing far behind developed countries of the world.

The CM said that Pakistan has been looted mercilessly and as long as ‘zar baba forty thieves’ were not shown the exit door, the aim of national progress and prosperity could not be achieved. He said the masses are leading miserable lives, adding that it would not be wrong to say that Iqbal’s Pakistan was lost.

Shahbaz said that Turkey, China, Saudi Arabia and Iran were sincere and trusted friends of Pakistan and complained that the corrupt rulers have not even spared such friendly countries. He said that a trusted friend like China was made a target of corruption in the Safe City Project and over Rs8 billion have been looted.

The CM said that hearts of the Turks beat with their Pakistani brethren, adding that Turk engineers, doctors and nurses have set a noble example of love and brotherhood by celebrating both their Eids with the flood affectees of south Punjab.

Shahbaz said that decisions of the Supreme Court should be respected. He said that Iqbal has given the eternal message of hope, self-respect and love for the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He said that Iqbal’s Pakistan has been divided into two parts, one for the rich and the other for the poor. He said that class distinction was at its peak and there was injustice everywhere. He said that time was not far off when a revolution would destroy this system of injustice.

He said that the way the hard-earned money of people has been looted was shameful. He said the poor were finding it hard to survive while the elite enjoyed all privileges. He said that for the poor there was ignorance, sorrow, death, humiliation and deprivation but for the rich there was higher education, happiness, life, respect and prosperity.

The CM said that during dengue and floods, he visited every area and region and the hatred he saw in the eyes of the deprived masses was precursor of a revolution. He said that now people wanted to get rid of ‘zar babas’ and ‘daba pirs’, and big mansions, palaces, bullet proof vehicles and ill-gotten wealth of the corrupt elite.

He said that Iqbal has given the message of freedom, struggle and self-respect but all have forgotten and were struck in the quagmire of hatred, dissension, terrorism, extremism, loot and corruption. He said that it was not destiny of the nation. He said that the nation was not only ashamed before Iqbal but also before those who laid down their lives for the creation of Pakistan.

Shahbaz said that there was a need to spread the message of Iqbal and steer the country out of despondency, deprivation and darkness and put it on the road to light and prosperity. He said that an educational endowment fund has been set up in Punjab with Rs10 billion and 35,000 students were benefitting from it. He said that it was the biggest educational scholarship programme in the history of the country.

He said that not only laptops were given to students on merit but Daanish Schools have also been established for the poor. He said that interest-free loans were being given to the skilled youth. He said that a network of roads and highways has been laid in the province and the wages of labourers have been increased substantially.

The CM said that IT labs have been set up in schools while air-conditioned buses have been plied for the common man. He said that it was realisation of the dream of Iqbal and Quaid. He said that he was committed to transform Pakistan in accordance with the ideals of Iqbal and Quaid and was ready to even risk his life for this purpose.

Paying glowing tributes to Allama Iqbal, Dr Majid Nizami said that the poet philosopher convinced Quaid-i-Azam to come back and lead the nation for achieving the goal of independent homeland for the Muslims of the subcontinent. As such, he said, if Iqbal had not convinced the Quaid to return from London, creation of Pakistan would have been difficult. He said that those who have seen Lahore before the creation of Pakistan could feel the difference and know the benefit of independence. He said that an independent country was only due to thinking of Allama Iqbal and sincere and untiring efforts of the Quaid. He thanked the participants for attending the function.

Shaukat Tarin said that unfortunately no government since the creation of Pakistan has fulfilled its responsibility of protecting lives and properties of the people. He said the country could not prosper and grow economically without improving law and order situation. He said every government had failed to collect taxes properly. Quoting the example of other countries, he said Sri Lanka collected 17 per cent tax, India 19 per cent, China 21 per cent while Pakistan collected only 9 per cent. He said only 2.5 to 3 million people pay taxes. He said every Pakistani earning over Rs300,000 per year should pay tax. He stressed upon the rulers to make their tax returns public to promote the tax culture.

Ijazul Haq said that participating in the Iqbal Day function was a great honour for him. He thanked Dr Majid Nizami and the Nazaria-i-Pakistan Trust for inviting him to the function. He said that Dr Majid Nizami has been serving the nation by promoting the ideology of Pakistan and the Kashmir cause. He said some forces are conspiring against the ideology of this Muslim state and ‘we should confront these conspiracies’.

He said Afghans defeated a supper power and there was need to remember their sacrifices because had they not offered their lives, the situation in the region would have been different. He said India is doing state terrorism in Kashmir, but insensitive Pakistani rulers are talking about improving ties with their arch rival. He said if the nation gets united, no one would dare conspire against Pakistan. He urged Dr Majid Nizami to play his role to unite the masses.

Justice (r) Nasira Javaid Iqbal said that she is proud of being a family member of Allama Iqbal. She said Iqbal gave hope when the Muslims of sub-continent were in darkness. “Nowadays, though we are independent citizen, we have lost the real aims of the creation of Pakistan,” she said. “Corruption is ruining the society.”

Justice (r) Nasira said Iqbal convinced Quaid-i-Azam to come back which was a turning point in the history of the sub-continent. “Some forces are against the education of girls,” she said and questioned why Malala was attacked. She said presently about three million children were out of schools. She urged the masses to vote for honest leadership in upcoming election.

Pir Syed Kabir Ali Shah Gillani said that it was not Iqbal’s Pakistan. He said Iqbal’s message was not only to read but to act. He said Iqbal spent all his life reading the Quran and Hadith and getting guidance from these two primary sources. He said that veil was identity of a Muslim woman, adding that it should be promoted among our women.

Samia Raheel Qazi said that Iqbal was her guru. She said the Muslim Ummah is facing scarcity of collective thinking. She said Iqbal gave the message of hope. She said real message of Iqbal is in Persian which is worth reading. “Translation of Iqbal’s Persian verses should be included in the syllabus,” she added.

Bushra Rehman stressed upon the need of using right to vote prudently and sending honest and capable people to the parliament. She said that everybody asks whether present day Pakistan was the country as envisaged by Allama Iqbal and Quaid-i-Azam. She said that suicide attacks on roads, shrines and killing of innocent people was not the way. She expressed hope that time would soon come when Pakistan would become a country as envisaged by Iqbal and the Quaid. She said that Pakistan had been established to remain till Dooms Day and those hatching conspiracies would be eliminated.

Qayyum Nizami said Iqbal wanted a democracy where everyone could get equal opportunities and rights. Prof Dr Parveen Khan said that Iqbal always stressed upon youth to come forward and play their role for betterment of the Muslims.

Prof Zahid Munir Aamir said that personality of Iqbal was multi-dimensional – he was a poet, intellectual, politician and Islamic scholar at the same time. He said Iqbal was the poet of humanity who preached these thoughts all his life.