LAHORE – The PML-N government in Punjab has largely been successful in implementing its manifesto of 2008 for which it stands apart from other provinces in terms of good governance, social uplift and elimination of corruption in public departments.

Many goals set in the manifesto were achieved. Headway was made on some projects while a few remained short of implementation, for which Punjab government laid the blame on power shortage, lack of resources, hurdles created by the Centre and terrorism.

In line with the spirit of Charter of Democracy, the PML-N manifesto mainly aimed at achieving political stability, democracy, sustained economic growth and national solidarity and by and large the PML-N achieved the end by striking down the Musharraf LFO, the 17th Amendment, securing independent judiciary, judicial commission, independent and neutral election commission, and throughout abhorring anything that threatened democracy.

The party could form government only at the Punjab level, so many parts of the manifesto which called for action at the federal government level remained unattended while some others not originally part of the manifesto, were completed at the provincial level. Metro Bus Service, laptop distribution, Ashiyana Housing Scheme, labour colonies, Lahore Ring Road, and internship schemes are some of the projects not included in the original document but met the core of the party objective to promote education, and provide transportation, housing and other facilities to the lower stratum. Price of daily use items continued to soar which were mainly attributed to the hike in fuel prices, and inflation on the federal government end.

To meet the targets set in the manifesto, the government raised budgets for major social sectors, including education, health, water supply and sanitation, infrastructure development, agriculture, youth, women and minorities, while funds for development of southern Punjab were enhanced more than five times as compared to the preceding government. For education funds were enhanced from Rs 11.807 billion to Rs 111.278 billion, for health from Rs 11.37 billion to 71 billion; water supply and sanitation from Rs 12.66 billion to Rs 43.38 billion; infrastructure development from Rs 104.70 billion to Rs 318.49 billion and Southern Punjab from Rs 52.75 in 2006-07 to Rs 292.43 billion in 2012-13.

However, due to lukewarm progress in industrial sector on account of energy crisis, foreign investment and industrial productivity decreased that gave rise to joblessness and affected revenue collection which slowed down progress of welfare programme, yet the govt continued with them braving the odds.

Although it was there but the development and uplift in rural areas in the social sector was less than that brought about in urban areas, which was a deviation from the party objective to narrow down the gap between the two sides.

In line with the spirit of the Manifesto, the Punjab government took initiatives to promote better ties with the provinces and played a vital role in making National Financial Commission Award acceptable to all when it had to sacrifice even its own share of resources.

As per manifesto, the Punjab government focused on the youth to motivate them for education and introduced self employment scheme for the youths. Salaries of the teachers were raised and they were given incentives on showing good results. Provision of missing facilities was ensured in 6,113 schools and 23 colleges, while 42,000 qualified teachers were recruited. As many as 2,788 schools were upgraded besides providing training to 120,000 teachers and educational managers.

The Punjab government also established 66 new degree colleges and 13 existing colleges were upgraded, besides establishing sub campuses of Punjab University at Jhelum and five new women universities. Establishment of Arifa Karim Information Technology Park and an IT University (ITU), allocation of Rs 10 billion for Punjab Education Endowment Fund and laptop scheme for talented students under CM’s youth initiative program were some others in the education sector.

To impart quality education to the poor but talented students Daanish Schools were set up.

No substantial progress was made to eliminate class-based education system. The target of achieving 100 per cent entrollement at schools was kick-started but a long journey is yet to cover to reach the destination. For jobs of educated youth, schemes like yellow cabs and soft loans were initiated but limited resources with the government did not let the whole segment of jobless people get benefit from it.

The second top most priority was given to the health sector, in the course of which main teaching hospitals in the province were modernised and equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment. Burn and dialysis units in major cities, and mobile health units at rural level were set up while free-of-cost medicines were provided to the people.

The government established Medical Colleges in Gujrat, DG Khan, Sahiwal, Sialkot and Gujranwala, besides ensuring provision of issuing facilities at 42 hospitals in the province.

To accelerate the pace of agricultural and rural development, the government initiated Green Tractor Scheme, provision of seeds and pesticides at subsidised rates in addition to soft loans to the farmers and running their tubewells on solar energy, besides launching crops insurance scheme.

Many incentives were given to promote livestock as well as to attract foreign investment in this sector as well as energy sector. Efforts were also made to minus the role of middle man in sale of agri products to keep prices at reasonable level but the desired result could not be achieved completely.

Steps were also taken to meet the energy needs of the industries but the electricity and gas from the federal government to Punjab remained short which hit this sector badly.

The minimum wages for workers were enhanced from Rs 6,000 to Rs 9,000 per month.

In order to reform the judicial system, the provincial government streamlined the system of civil judges’ appointment and substantially raised their salaries. It was also a part of the party manifesto relating to curbing corruption and ensuring speedy justice for which, efforts are however, still on. The party claimed to have eliminated corruption at the top level of bureaucracy and the government and bringing in transparency and merit in the system, but many contradictory voices were raised at the public and political level.

The government also made legislation to protect women’s right of inheritance and to create for them room in education, besides initiating performance-based Rs 37 billion incentive schemes for women, teachers and youth.

Change of Thana culture and orientation of police to public service, remained a focus of the government for which the department was equipped with all wherewithal and facilities. The government set up 100 police stations on modern lines and forensic labs were established. Police officials were trained on modern lines and they were given enhanced salaries, but the required result could not be achieved.

The government failed to set up citizens-police liaison committees at every level as well as the district Ombudsman and it also failed to hold the local bodies elections which it promised party-based in the manifesto.

It had also promised to set up a commission to examine causes and fix responsibility for the 1999 Kargil crisis, but it could not do so.

Contrary to the call of the manifesto, top level government officers continued to enjoy discretionary powers, however, a mechanism was evolved to make their exercise strictly within law and on merit.

The government honoured the commitment to computerise the land revenue and police record to rid the citizens of sifarsih and rishwat at grass-roots level.

In order to bring in simplicity and pursue austerity, the government did put a check on purchasing new vehicles, treatment from abroad, foreign visits and lavish entertainment etc. but the desired result could not be achieved mainly due to the reason that no independent body was there to monitor the implementation.

The size of the provincial cabinet was kept small to meet demand of the manifesto.

Roads infrastructure was given special importance and during last four years about 1,800 km roads were widened from 10-12 ft to 24 ft and 700 km of new roads were constructed.

The government also completed 11 small dams in Potohar area, besides lining of channels for about 515 km.