MANDI BAHAUDDIN-A group of people, belonging to Malakwal Tehsil, yesterday started a march toward Islamabad, on foot, to highlight their decade-old demand for a bridge over River Jhelum to link Malakwal and Bhalwal tehsils with Pindaden Khan.

Talking to the media persons here, the marchers led by Akbar Ali Goga, said that people of three districts - Mandi Bahauddin, Sargodha and Gujjar Khan, have been demanding the construction of either a separate bridge over River Jhelum or at least an asphalt road on the railway track of the Victoria Bridge for decades. Mr Goga regretted that political parties and their leaders do make false promises regarding construction of the bridge during election campaigns but forget their words as soon as they come to power. He claimed that for the first time they made the demand for construction of a bridge during Ayub Khan’s rule, adding that later Gen Ziaul Haq allocated a sum of Rs50 million for the project. “PM Benazir Bhutto made a pledge to complete the project in 1996 and later Pervez Musharraf laid foundation stone of the bridge and approved Rs1.032 billion for it,” he recalled. He lamented that the then Punjab CM Pervaiz Elahi had also laid the foundation stone for the bridge in October, 2007 while former PM Yusuf Raza Gilani also announced construction of a road on the railway track of the bridge at a public meeting at Malakwal some six years back. In November 2012, the then President Asif Zardari inaugurated the project during his visit to Malakwal and announced construction of a road on the railway track at a cost of Rs390 million, he added. Mr Goga informed that sitting MNA Nasir Bosal and MPA Shafqat Gondal had also promised to fulfil the public demand but nothing could be done so far. He said despite all their hue and cry, no ruler in the past and even at the present, bothered to address the public demand which would ultimately facilitate people of three districts. “It is discrimination and step-motherly treatment with the people,” he regretted. He said the present government is spending huge funds on construction of roads and bridges but they have forgotten to fulfil their promise made with the people of Malakwal, Bhalwal and Pind Dadin Khan tehsils. He said he has got signatures of people of the area on an application addressed to PM Nawaz Sharif for construction of a road on railway track of the bridge and on reaching Islamabad, he would present it to the prime minister.