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Pakistan

Web Desk
June 6, 2021

Centre will spend on Sindh's people, not its govt: Asad Umar to Murad Ali Shah

Web Desk
Sun, Jun 06, 2021

Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar on Sunday told Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah that the federal government will spend on the people of Sindh, not its government.

His remarks came in response to a letter by the chief minister written to Prime Minister Imran Khan in which he wrote at length of the Centre's alleged discrimination against Sindh.

"I think the chief minister is confused because he is unable to distinguish between the people of Sindh and the government of Sindh.

"Chief minister, sir, you may be the government of Sindh but you are not the people of Sindh. And we will spend on the people of Sindh, not on the government of Sindh," Umar said.

He said that the funds that had gone from the Centre to Sindh in the past had "resulted in palaces being constructed, diamond necklaces being discovered in Switzerland and towers being constructed in Dubai, and assets being accumulated in France".

"The people of Sindh know of what I speak, whether it is citizens living in the urban areas or in villages. The rest of Pakistan, on the other hand, may not even know how poorly developed Sindh is," the minister added.

Umar reminded everyone that PM Imran Khan had announced, within a year of coming into power, not one but two "historic" development packages which cover urban areas as well as rural areas, extending to 18 districts.

The federation, through Ministry of Planning, Development & Special Initiatives, through the Public Private Partnership Authority, and with the help of other federal government institutions that are spending out of their own budget, will spend more than Rs1,000bn on Sindh over the course of three years, he said.

Umar then listed the major projects the Centre has undertaken responsibility for:

  • K-IV water project
  • Work on nullahs in Mehmoodabad, Orangi, Gujjar Nala
  • Green line transport project - to be completed by September next year
  • More than Rs6.5 billion for the Sukkur Electric Power Company (SEPCO) which provides power to Northern Sindh
  • More than Rs5bn set aside for Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (HESCO) which provides power to Southern Sindh, except for Karachi.
  • More than 8bn allocated for Sindh universities.
  • Reni Canal and Nai Gaj Canal.
  • Small dams.

Speaking of the criticism levelled by Shah against the neglect of motorway projects, especially those by National Highway Authority, Umar said he had been "stunned" to read about the same. "It would have been better for his party had he not mentioned any of this," the minister said.

Umar said that when the PTI came into power, work on the Multan-Sukkur motorway had already begun and it was this government and finished the project, after investing Rs98bn into it "so that the province can have its first real motorway project".

Moving on to the Sukkur-Hyderabad motorway project, he said that the Public Private Partnership Authority board has accorded approval, as have Central Development Working Party (CDWP) and Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) last week. It is headed towards bidding which will soon be complete.

Umar said that the federal government will invest a "very generous amount" of more than Rs200bn for its completion.

The minister said that combined, the two projects mean an investment of Rs300bn "on the first motorways in Sindh's history".

"Now I ask you, chief minister, sir. Your party has ruled over the province six times and has ruled over the country four times. More than 50 years have passed since it first secured power [...] but I wish to tell the people of Sindh [PPP] did not spend a single rupee since that time on any motorway project.

"And they are raising questions on the NHA motorway projects," he remarked.

Umar said he wishes to "assure the people of Sindh that Imran Khan is the prime minister for all of Pakistan and does not do ethnic politics".

"He takes into consideration all areas of Pakistan and which is why he announced two big development packages for Sindh. Standing in Sukkur he had promised that within a month ground would break for the projects the Centre has announced," the minister said.

He added that he himself went to various districts recently and either groundbreaking for projects was taking place or they were being inaugurated, such as a NADRA centre.

The minister promised that similar speed will be witnessed in all other projects promised by the Centre.

Umar said that ever since the Pakistan Democratic Movement has "crumbled", the "fanciful dreams that [Shah] had of being prime minister have perhaps been crushed" and so "for the past two weeks, you will notice he has resorted to playing ethnic politics, and using the Sindh nationalism card, which the people are sick and tired of hearing since the past 50 years".

"They talk about Punjab stealing Sindh's water or us doing ethnic politics. [However], InshaAllah, the interests of the people of Sindh will served and no one will be allowed to stand in the way of that," he vowed.