GUJRANWALA - Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has vowed to lead a Long March for “what he described” as the development of the country and equality in distribution of resources among provinces as well as bring an end to the unprecedented corruption being done under the shelter of President Asif Zardari. “Punjab is being deprived of its rights and victimised politically despite the fact that it has sacrificed its Rs11 billion share to get passed the National Finance Commission.”

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif made the remarks while addressing members of civil society and Gujranwala Chamber of Commerce & Industry (GCCI) here at Tuesday afternoon. MNA Khuram Dastgir Khan, GCCI President Malik Zaheerul Haq, former president Sheikh Sarwat Ikram, Major (r) Anjum Pervez and Fazal Rehman Babar also spoke on the occasion.

The chief minister pointed out that Punjab had been generating 700 Megawatts of power along with minimum line-losses or theft of just 12 per cent as compared to 33 to 44 per cent theft in other provinces. “All burden has been shifted to the people of Punjab and it has been bearing Rs250 billion losses annually due to power and gas outages which has rendered millions of labourers unemployed in the province,” he argued.

The Punjab CM that the PPP-led federal government could not enhance the power generation capacity during last four years which ‘apparently’ reflected that it was not part of its agenda as it remained busy in minting money through rental power scams. Shahbaz Sharif alleged that Prime Minister Gilani had failed to implement the outcome of National Energy Conference and later changed the consensus decision of the conference. Similarly, the government has also failed to recover the circular debt amounting to Rs350 billion and victimising Punjab for its own fiasco,” he added. Shahbaz Sharif averred that Punjab always played the role of big brother and always rendered sacrifices for other provinces. Neither Punjab ever exploited any other federating unit nor it killed Akbar Bugti but it has always been blamed and criticised for the ills of others,” the Punjab CM elaborated. He said that the killer of Bugti was presented guard of honour by the current regime and now dramatizing the situation only for political point scoring.

He said, “Whenever I spoke about corruption of the federal government, it is termed as trial of Benazir Bhutto’s grave but I regretted that Asif Zardari and his cohorts are trying to hide their robberies and thefts behind that grave of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto which will never be let done any more now.” The Benazir Income Support Programme is being run through the funds of all provinces but benefits are being provided to personal friends instead of the real deserving poor masses of the country, he revealed.

The chief minister appealed to the masses to come out for protest but, “for God sake, don’t damage public or private properties.”

Earlier, addressing the ceremony, MNA Khurram Dastgir Khan assured the chief minister of his full cooperation for the initiation of a “Long March” against the federal government’s maladministration. Pakistan can only make progress after ousting President Zardari and his accomplices who had made life miserable for the masses, he reiterated.

President GCCI Malik Zaheerul Haq and other traders also urged the Chief Minster to come up to the expectations of the commoners so that Pakistan could be put back to the road to prosperity and self-reliance.