South Punjab is one of the poorest and least developed regions of Punjab – one that requires investment and attention. However, reports that the construction of 69-kilometer long rural roads in Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar’s home district have been approved, has invited expected criticism. The construction project is being painted as a deviation from the instructions of the Prime Minister (PM) who does not want constituency-based development schemes. That certainly is correct, and under normal circumstances, the criticism is a valid one. However, the case of South Punjab demands a more objective analysis and an acute understanding of the ground realities.

CM Buzdar’s hometown is an undeveloped and a far-flung area. Why shouldn’t it be developed is the question that needs answer as well. To bring the region up to par with the rest of Punjab, it needs more financial assistance and funds. And hopefully, PTI will not limit the infrastructural development programs only to Buzdar’s hometown.

Criticism of government policies is to be expected, especially when it stands in contrast to stated policies. However, in the absence of a robust local government setup – which is still in the works – there is no other choice but to dole out development funds than through a constituency based method; as has been done by all governments over the years.

If the government ignores such regions, opposition and media will target it for being a silent spectator. If the government tries to initiate an uplift programme for such areas, people start opposing the positive initiatives calling them either contradictory to government’s policies. Hence, these regions remain undeveloped and marginalised perpetually.

Launching projects of infrastructural development will help in countering the sense of marginalisation in the people of the area that is brewing in collective consciousness of the people for quite a long time. The economic grievance of the people has provided steam to the movement of a separate province. At present when the country is approaching the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout package, the government cannot afford creation of a new province. However, the state’s commitment of bringing the region up to par with the developed parts of the province can slow down the demand of a separate province.

Every previous government kept on saying that overcoming the backwardness of southern Punjab was their top priority; however, their words hardly translated into concrete actions. Now that the incumbent government is trying to achieve what the previous governments had failed in accomplishing, we should lend our support to any such idea.