LAHORE - Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif said here on Monday that Pakistan could be put on the path to progress by adopting the virtues of honesty, hard-work and commitment. “The destiny of the nation can be changed and Pakistan can be transformed in accordance with the ideals of the Quaid-e-Azam and Allama Dr Muhammad Iqbal if a strong pledge is made for its reconstruction,” he told the participants of the inaugural ceremony, held at the Punjab University, to distribute laptops among the brilliant students of the Punjab.

The distribution of laptops, said Shahbaz, would start from Rahim Yar Khan and the campaign would complete by the end of March next. (But he did not mention when the drive would kick off).

TheNation Editor-in-Chief Majid Nizami, Senator Pervaiz Rashid, MNA Ahsan Iqbal, Vice chancellors of different universities, secretaries of various departments, teachers and a large number of students attended the function.

Shahbaz Sharif said: “Though it is an uphill task, it is not impossible. The youth is fully capable of achieving this objective.” He said that the Punjab government’s laptop programme would provide a strong basis for the elimination of hunger and poverty and strengthening of the agriculture and industrial sectors of the country. The provincial chief minister said that distribution of laptops would be completed by March this year while 300,000 laptops would be distributed among the talented students next year. “It will cost Rs.12 billion.”

The chief minister said that he was very pleased to be at the function held to acknowledge the hard work and commitment of brilliant students at a prestigious educational institution of the country. He said that it was a historic day as the project of distribution of 110,000 laptops for students, the first of its kind in the history of the country, was being formally inaugurated. He said the project would spread knowledge from Attock to Rahim Yar Khan and translate the dreams of Dr Iqbal and the Quaid-e-Azam into a reality.

Shahbaz said the purpose of holding the inaugural ceremony at the PU was to recognise the hard-work and dedication of the brilliant students of the university, their parents and teachers. He said the Pakistan of the Quaid-e-Azam was disintegrated in 1971, but no lesson was learnt from that tragedy. He said the country was immersed in darkness and the energy crisis had left a deep negative impact on industrial, trade, agriculture and other sectors while the worst corruption had weakened the foundations of the country. He said that a corrupt government was in power and sooner the nation got rid of it, the better it would be. He said that Pakistan on the one hand was a nuclear power while on the other hand its rulers were running about with a begging bowl.

While citing the example of Germany, he said that it was totally devastated in the World War-II but after 50 years of hard-work it has again become a very strong economy and the credit for this achievement goes to the hard work of German nation and modern technology. He said that he during his recent visit to Germany impressed upon the German leadership that though Pakistanis were a poor nation but they had honour and dignity and wanted trade rather aid and need technology.

He said that foreign assistance weakens the country and any aid which was conditional undermined the self-respect of a nation. He said that time had come for the nation to follow the golden principle of work, work and work for the progress and prosperity of the country. The Punjab government under the leadership of PML-N President Nawaz Sharif, he said, was following a comprehensive programme of progress and development. He said that the project of distribution of laptops was an important step in the direction of progress of the country. He said that the aim of rapid development could not be achieved without equipping the youth with modern education.

He said that a special programme had also been evolved for the provision of Internet facility to the ‘official’ laptops. He said that Wi-Fi connections were being given to the campuses while a programme was also being evolved for provision of free Wi-Fi connection to the students at their homes for the use of laptops.

He paid rich tributes to Chairman Planning & Development Javed Aslam for implementation of laptop programme and said that his services for development of education sector and promotion of information technology will always be remembered. He said that he implemented the projects of IT labs and laptops in a highly transparent manner. He said that it would be made binding upon the company which had supplied the computers to perform all responsibilities from next year including the manufacturing of computers in Pakistan.

Addressing the function, MNA Ahsan Iqbal said that 62 percent population of Pakistan comprised the youth, who were the real strength of the country. He said that Pakistan could join the rank of ten biggest economies of the world by equipping the young generation with modern knowledge. He said that maximum attention was being paid under leadership of Punjab CM towards imparting modern education to the youth. He said that distribution of laptops would help to remove class disparity. He said that foundation of a scientific revolution had been laid by setting up IT labs in more than four thousand schools of the province and recruitment of 32 thousand science teachers.

PU VC Dr. Mujahid Kamran while addressing the function said that the commitment shown by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif was no secret and the selection of 40,000 educators, 32,000 science teachers on merit and the setting up of the Punjab Educational Endowment Fund and the Daanish Schools was proof of the fact. He said that distribution of laptops would bring about a change in the lives of the youth besides leaving a far-reaching impact on educational sector. IT expert Dr. Syed Mansoor Sarwar highlighted the features of the laptops. Earlier, the Chief Minsiter along with Hamid Nizami formally inaugurated the project of distribution of laptops by cutting the tape and gave laptops to Hafiz Muhammad Tayyab, who recited the Holy Quran, and a student (Muniba Ijaz), who presented Naat-e-Rasool-e-Maqbool at the event. On the occasion, the CM announced to name computer labs of the PU after brilliant IT star Arfa Karim Randhawa.

Meanwhile, British Council’s Education Director Dr. Nils Tomas in a statement announced to provide innovative and interactive English language learning materials on the laptops being distribute to the students by the Punjab Government so that students and their families can improve their skills in this global language. The British Council also congratulated the Government of the Punjab on the launch of laptop distribution project.