The Sharif’s believe that they won the general election of 2013 because of the Metro Bus project. They had very little to show elsewhere in the remaining 36 districts of Punjab, particularly in the neglected 11 districts of South Punjab or the rest of the province. It was shocking to read that another Lahore specific project has been negotiated with the Chinese government, by the Chief Minister, at a cost of US$1.6 billion for rail-based transport.

CM Shahbaz Sharif seems to have tunnel vision, as he cannot see beyond Lahore (now he is promising Metro Bus in Islamabad). I wonder what the remaining three provinces must be feeling. It is this uneven treatment and lop sided distribution of resources that hurts nations. We have seen in the past how public sentiments have been roused against the elitist Central Punjabi leadership and the rest of the country.

In 2004, I was entrusted the work of restoring the Karachi Circular Railways by the then prime minister. I worked with Sindh government and established Karachi Urban Transport Company. The funding was negotiated with JICA of Japan, which was at a nominal interest rate. As the new government of PPP was installed in 2008, I was happy that at least Karachi Circular Railway would be their priority and the Federal government would provide sovereign guarantee for the soft loan being provided by the Japanese government under their social sector program. But nothing happened, as ex-president Zardari was not interested in the project and it was dumped.

Now the Sharif brothers have abandoned this project which is of great importance for the inhabitants of Karachi almost completely, and negotiated a new one for Lahore. Can one imagine what message are we sending to Sindh? Where is ECNEC, or has Ahsan Iqbal surrendered himself completely to CM Punjab?


Lahore, May 24.