LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said the country is passing through a critical phase because of serious issues like extremism and terrorism. The enemy wants to destabilise the country and the situation demands extraordinary measures, he added.

Presiding over a meeting on law and order situation and security arrangements during Muharramul Haram, on Thursday, the chief minister said the Punjab government did all out efforts to maintain law and order as well as to create atmosphere of brotherhood during Muharram.

Shahbaz said the nefarious designs of the enemy would be foiled with the force of unity. He also directed the senior police officers to visit various districts to monitor security arrangements.

The chief minister said no negligence would be tolerated in the implementation of the security plan evolved to ensure peace during Muharram. He said the organisers of majalis and processions should be taken into confidence regarding security arrangements, while four-tier security arrangements plan around majalis and processions should be strictly enforced.

Shahbaz directed to increase deployment of police personnel at mosques and Imambargahs. He directed that the senior advisor, the provincial law minister, the chief secretary and other special teams should conduct surprise visit to review security arrangements throughout the province.

He said terrorism at Dhok Syedan in which precious lives were lost was condemnable. He directed making well-coordinated and foolproof security plan and ensuring its implementation to stop recurrence of such incidents.

Also, the chief minister said the Punjab government was mulling a separate plan to provide transport facilities to the girl students. He said that education was the only way through which the challenge of extremism can be combated.

Presiding over a meeting on Punjab Schools Reforms Roadmap Programme at Model Town, on Thursday, the chief minister said PSRRP was a revolutionary programme for which all possible resources were being provided to ensure its success.

Shahbaz said as Indian Province of Bihar Chief Minister Natish Kumar had provided bicycles to girl students for going to schools, Punjab government, likewise, intended to launch a new programme in this regard.

“If the country has to achieve progress and extremism is to be eliminated then promotion of technical education, along with traditional education, is essential,” the chief minister held. He directed to implement the well-coordinated programme for capacity-building of teachers.

Shahbaz said promotion of education was the top priority of the Punjab government, as the dream of national progress and prosperity could not be realised, without boosting the literacy rate. He said, along with setting up new institutions, missing facilities were also being provided, on priority basis, at schools.

“Like other sectors, political-based recruitment of teachers has also been quashed in the education department, while over more than 70 thousand teachers have been recruited purely on merit basis. Special attention is being given to ensure presence of teachers, besides imparting quality education to the students,” the CM held.

Shahbaz said better results could be garnered by improving the efficiency of the teachers, while the teachers deployed in the districts, showing good performance, would be encouraged. The chief minister directed the finance secretary to provide all required funds for the Punjab Schools Reforms Roadmap and, after achieving the targets, a third-party audit should also be ensured.

Special Representative of British department DFID Sir Michael Barbar, Debbie Palmer, Fenton Whelan of McKinsey company, Mark Jenner, Kinley Salmon, office-bearers of World Bank Huma Waheed, Reynold Duncan, David Fourier of CIDA, and authorities concerned were present on the occasion.

Meanwhile, Khawaja Noor Muhammad Sahu (Sajada Nasheen Sheikh Fazil Sharif Burewala) called on Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and announced joining the PML- N, along with his companions.

Sahu was the advisor to the former Punjab chief minister. After joining the PML-N, he had been appointed political assistant to the chief minister.

Welcoming Sahu, Shahbaz said opposition parties were afraid of growing popularity of the PML-N and this party was poised to achieve successes in the upcoming elections.