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Sunday April 21, 2024

Murad becomes Sindh CM for record consecutive 3rd time: Maryam elected as first-ever woman CM of Punjab

Maryam also took oath as the chief minister Punjab at the Governor’s House

By Ali Raza & Azeem Samar & Faizan Bangash & Mumtaz Alvi
February 27, 2024
Screenshot of Maryam Nawaz being sworn in as Punjab CM. — Geo News video
Screenshot of Maryam Nawaz being sworn in as Punjab CM. — Geo News video

LAHORE/KARACHI: History was created on Monday when the Punjab Assembly elected Maryam Nawaz as the first-ever woman chief minister of Punjab amid boycott of the election process by the opposition.

On the same day, Syed Murad Ali Shah of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was elected as the Sindh chief minister for the third time after winning election for the leader of the house in the Sindh Assembly, with an overwhelming majority.

Maryam Nawaz, the daughter of PMLN supremo Nawaz Sharif, secured 220 votes in the house whereas Sunni Ittehad Council candidate Rana Aftab and opposition MPAs staged boycott of the polling process. Maryam got four votes less than the Punjab Assembly speaker, who had secured 224 votes. Though difference wasminimal, it raised questions as to who did not vote for the CM today.

The election of the speaker was conducted through a secret ballot, while that for the CM was open; there was a possibility that four MPAs from the opposition might have voted for the speaker.

Maryam also took oath as the chief minister Punjab at the Governor’s House a few hours later while her father, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and PMLN President Shehbaz Sharif were also present at the ceremony.

In her maiden address as the SM on the Punjab Assembly floor, Maryam said she was the chief minister of every MPA across the divide, and promised that her doors were opened to everyone, devoid of any political lining. With her mother’s portrait placed at the rostrum before her, she spoke for over 90 minutes amid sloganeering from the visitors’ gallery by her supporters. She said she would have been happy had the opposition not staged a boycott, and participated in the polling process. However, she asserted that she did not believe in taking revenge on her opponents. She added she would treat all her colleagues equally and invited the opposition to strengthen her hands in Punjab’s journey towards prosperity.

Terming harassment of women as her ‘red line’, Maryam said she would ensure that Punjab becomes a safe land for womenfolk. She said her victory as the CM was also a matter of pride for women of Punjab and she would take all possible measures for their empowerment during her tenure. She also promised to provide electric motorbikes to the youth including females. She said the doors of the CM house were opened to the youth and her government would create new opportunities for them. She said a model was being designed for free education for poor children and incentives would be given to investors in public private partnership. She also promised a full-fledged school transport system in the province. Every intern, she said, would be paid at least Rs25,000 per month. Maryam said India and Bangladesh were far ahead of Pakistan in the info-tech sector. She also promised a digital Punjab and vowed to set up five IT cities in the province. She said that tech companies would be convinced and facilitated to invest in Punjab and open their offices here. She also promised free wifi for people and very soon Lahore would be wifi free. She said that to learn and seek artificial intelligence skill, facilities would be provided to aspiring students. She promised that road network would be given special importance and it would be ensured that till completion of her term, new roads and motorways were constructed.

Maryam, during her speech, also promised to start air ambulance service for patients living in far-flung areas to meet medical emergency. Similarly, she said Rescue-1122 must be upgraded to address motorways related accidents. Moreover, she said, TB and hepatitis screening would also be ensured. She said the health card programme, launched by previous PTI government, suffered from nepotism and corruption, and added that an effective health card system would be launched soon. She also vowed to take all steps to address problems related to deaths caused by neonatal issues.

She promised business opportunities for the youth so that they could start trading from home as well. Regarding curriculum, she said there was a need to review it and it must be same for the students coming from the and the poor segments of society. She said at least one Daanish school should be set up in each city of Punjab.

Regarding skills development, she said she would focus on it. Paying tribute to her uncle Shehbaz Sharif over his performance as the CM, Maryam said it was a huge responsibility on her shoulders now and she would have to confront different challenges. She said poverty was a very serious issue of the province and to move ahead legacy of the ‘giants’ like Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif and Ishaq Dar, she had to perform above and beyond.

She said there were challenges being confronted by sectors like education, health, and the youth. She said malnutrition was also a challenge for her government, and she would also make all-out efforts to redress issues of the farming community. She promised that she would directly go to her office from the assembly and start implementing the party manifesto. She said the agenda would be implemented in letter and spirit. She said improving economy was priority of her government, and Punjab would be made economic hub by facilitating the businesspeople with facilities that had never been provided to them before.

She also stressed the need for setting up an effective governance model. She said she would ensure that development projects should not become a victim of ‘red tapism’. She said she would personally monitor the complaints of people without wasting time.

Regarding Ramazan, she said a ‘Nigahban’ package for the poor people had been set up. Besides, Sasta Ramazan Bazaar and effective implementation of price control committee would be ensured. She announced starting monitoring of price control committee from day one of her assuming her duties as the CM. She said the government did not have data about people’s income and directed the chief secretary to compile a reliable data to assess the poverty situation.

About the youth, Maryam said all students coming up to criteria and merit would be provided resources by the provincial government for further education in top world universities. She also announced youth loan programme like the one announced by former PM Nawaz Sharif in 2013. She said the youth would be given laptops, tablets to help them meet their educational requirements related to IT.

The CM Punjab said it was hard to tackle the challenge of high electricity rates and eventually, the population had to turn up to solarisation. However, she said for consumers using less than 300 units, the government would ensure that solar panels were provided to them.

She said that at the workplaces, the government would set up day-care centres for children. She also lauded the police officer who saved a woman from mob in Ichhra on Sunday, and announced that she would meet that brave woman officer.

About transgenders, she said her government wanted to mould thinking of society regarding the marginalised segments and would take all measures for their protection. She promised all measures for safety and welfare of minorities, which were part and parcel of Pakistan, as reflected in the national flag. Maryam, in her speech, also said that people with less than 60,000 income were considered poor, but to assess people’s economic conditions, she would direct the chief secretary to conduct a province-wise survey to collect real-time data.

Regarding ‘thana culture’, she said incidents like Taxila were intolerable and added that her government would ensure all steps that could facilitate people in the process related to registration of FIRs. The safe city project would also be given special importance. Maryam said sports was a very significant field and her government would ensure that every union council must have its own playground. She directed that all 49,000 schools of Punjab should be opened for sports activities in the evening.

Soon after taking oath of her office, Maryam held a marathon of official meetings including one of law and order, and passed necessary orders to the departments concerned.

While chairing a meeting on relief from inflation, Maryam ordered establishment of an independent department of price control within the next five days. She directed the officials concerned to prepare a plan and also issued directives to monitor demand and supply system. She was told that there was no formal legal mechanism for price control on which she said that temporary measures were not be enough and controlling inflation was top priority of her government.

Maryam said a sustainable system should be made for elimination of high prices, especially of fruits, vegetables and other food items. She said punishment should be ensured for those who violated the official prices.

Parvez Rashid, Marriyam Aurangzeb, Azma Bukhari, Bilal Kayani, Afzal Khokhar, Sania Ashiq, and secretaries were present.

The CM took strict notice of an incident of slapping of an elderly woman by a policeman in Taxila and said if the law enforcer broke the law, then who would respect it? She directed the IGP Punjab to ensure respect of every citizen.

The IGP gave a briefing on law and order and police performance in the province. In another meeting, Maryam discussed matters related to Ramazan package and directed the officials to prepare a package, which could actually provide relief to citizens.

Meanwhile, Punjab CM Maryam Nawaz made an unscheduled visit to Shalimar police station. Navigating through crowded and narrow streets, she arrived at the police station, where she reviewed the front desk and received a briefing from the IGP Punjab. She interacted with remanded prisoners and inspected the women’s washroom at the police station.

Separately, PMLN President Shehbaz Sharif felicitated Maryam Nawaz on being elected as the Punjab chief minister.

PMLN Punjab President Rana Sanaullah said the brave daughter of Punjab was going to hold the highest position of service and she would carry forward the traditions of service.

Meanwhile, Speaker Punjab Assembly Malik Ahmed Khan praised Maryam Nawaz’s speech in the house.

However, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) senior leader Barrister Gohar Khan Monday said Maryam Nawaz was selected as the chief minister in an incomplete house and added that people would reject her in that position. He alleged that the characters who were badly defeated in elections on February 8 were illegally assembled in the Punjab legislature.

He said, “We strongly condemn the appointment of Maryam Nawaz as chief minister from an incomplete house in complete violation of law and regulations. Maryam Nawaz’s ‘selection’ as chief minister of Punjab is a blot on the face of democracy”.

Gohar cautioned that her ‘unconstitutional selection’ would severely hurt prospects of stability in the province and increase anger among the people of Punjab. “We completely reject Maryam Nawaz’s selection,” he said.

In his reaction, PTI spokesperson said all democratic and constitutional norms were trampled upon to elect a fake chief minister of Punjab, as police imposed a curfew outside the Punjab Assembly to prevent PTI’s nominee for the slot and the party’s elected representatives from entering the assembly.

The spokesperson said those who reached the Punjab Assembly fraudulently and through polls manipulation, elected the daughter of a certified and court-convict criminal as a fake chief minister of the largest province of the country.

He claimed that people of Punjab would not tolerate an insult to their mandate come what may. The PTI warned that the edifice of the unconstitutional government set up after polls fraud would not be sustainable and it would collapse under its own burden anytime soon.

In the Sindh Assembly on Monday, Murad Ali Shah was elected as the Sindh CM for the third time an overwhelming majority. The assembly session was chaired by Speaker Awais Qadir Shah. The election for the provincial chief executive was held through division of the house.

Murad secured 112 votes, while the candidate of Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQMP) Ali Khursheedi secured 36 votes. Shah was elected as the 25th CM of the province and he would take oath of his office at Sindh Governor’s House on Tuesday (today) evening.

The speaker, while greeting Shah, termed his election a historical moment. Lawmakers belonging to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, who have joined the Sunni Ittehad Council, and the lone MPA belonging to Jamaat-e-Islami, did not take part in the election process.

Earlier, the PTI-backed legislators resorted to protest in the house against alleged rigging in the February 8 general election. They displayed placards and raised slogans after gathering near the rostrum of the speaker.

Later, the lawmakers belonging to the PPP, MQM Pakistan, and JI spoke in the house to greet Shah on winning the election for CM.

MQM’s MPA Abdul Waseem hoped that Shah becoming the provincial chief executive for the third time would use his authority in the best interest of the people of Sindh. He told the house it was the earnest desire of the people of Sindh that their longstanding problems should speedily be solved.

PPP’s MPA Muhammad Bux Mahar said that Shah had become the Sindh CM for the third time as per the vision of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who believed in giving authority to the one who was capable of delivering.

MQM’s MPA Iftikhar Alam hoped that the new leader of the house in his tenure would give equal attention to rural and urban areas of the province. He mentioned in the house that the people of Karachi and Hyderabad had been facing numerous issues.

He called for the adoption of a revised and empowered award of the provincial financial commission to give due resources to district governments in the province.

He also called for the adoption of the constitutional amendment package proposed by the MQM’s leadership to empower the local governments and resolve the issues of people.

Former Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Khan Durrani urged lawmakers in the house that they should not advocate for division of Sindh as Karachi was an integral part of the province. He praised the services of the CM-elect during the flood emergency to provide aid to victims of the massive natural disaster in the province in the past regime.

Lone JI lawmaker in the house, Muhammad Farooq, also assured the house that he would lend support to the new provincial government for development of the province.

He said general election had been rigged in Karachi as people who had secured over 32,000 votes had been compelled to sit outside the house and protest while people sitting in the assembly hadn’t secured more than 2,500 votes. He mentioned that students of Karachi had faced sheer injustice in the recent annual examinations of the Board of Intermediate Education Karachi. He called for the annulment of the results of HSSC Annual Part-1 Exams to do justice in the case of suffering students.

Sindh CM-elect Murad Ali Shah, while announcing priorities of his new government, announced serving the entire province without any discrimination while taking along the opposition as per the vision of the PPP chairman.

Speaking on the floor of the Sindh Assembly, Shah announced accelerating the pace of development work in the province. He said establishing the rule of law was priority number one of his new government.

He cautioned the officials of provincial bureaucracy to observe punctuality in attending to their duties and reaching their offices at 9 am daily. He said the salaries of the provincial government employees would be doubled in the next five years.

He announced that the law-enforcement agencies would conduct an operation against dacoits in the riverine belt of the province, commonly known as Katcha area, while the menace of street crimes would also be eliminated in Karachi.

He mentioned that late prime minister Benazir Bhutto had encouraged him to join politics. He expressed gratitude to the PPP leadership for granting him the opportunity to serve the people of the province for the third time. He recalled that after he had been threatened with imprisonment in the past regime, Bilawal had declared that Murad Ali Shah would remain the Sindh CM even after he was sent behind bars.

Shah assured the house that he would not differentiate between the treasury and opposition benches during his rule. He said that he would always remain open to criticism by the opposition lawmakers for improvement in his regime.

He said that his new government would install solar power systems so that deprived power consumers could be provided with 300 units of electricity free of charge as per the PPP’s election manifesto. He said that the free-of-charge public healthcare system would further be expanded in the province. The CM-elect said that farmers would be given seeds free of charge.

Shah said the PPP had secured a two-thirds majority in the February 8 general election based on its public service in the past regime. He said that he took responsibility for the Form-45 of each one of the winning MPA of the PPP.

He said that two woman candidates of the PPP had won the February 8 general election on general seats. He said that PPP had made for the first time a Christian lawmaker the deputy speaker of the Sindh Assembly as per its vision to serve the religious minorities in the best possible manner. He said that PPP would take along with it all the concerned quarters in society.

He said that Karachi was an integral part of the province as no one could ever think of annexing the capital of the province. The CM-elect said that he was born in Karachi and knew very well the provincial capital. He said the incumbent mayor of Karachi belonged to the PPP because of its work to serve the Karachiites.