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October 22, 2018

Prohibited in Centre, permitted in Punjab

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October 22, 2018

ISLAMABAD: A few days ago, Health Services director general visited Mianwali, a district which has figured atop in the priority list of the Punjab government for development work. He was there for onsite inspection ahead of an ambitious plan to carry out three health projects.

PM Imran inaugurates Mianwali-Rawalpindi Express

Included among them is all-female hospital of 100 beds for mothers and children. Mianwali will be the first city in Punjab, rather in Pakistan, to have a specialised facility of this size for gynecology and pediatric cases. A medical college and a paramedical school are two other projects of health sector conceived for this city, Dr Munir Ahmed, DG Health Services, told The News.

Mianwali is considered among the backward districts. Dr Munir acknowledged that the health projects have been planned after the formation of the PTI government. This is the VVIP’s town hence this must have some benefits too, DG Health Services said.

While the PTI government at the federal level announced an end to discretionary funds of prime minister and development funds for MNAs, no such thing has happened in reality. The PM Office has dispatched covering letters with the proposals submitted by an MNA from Mianwali about different development projects and has directed the federal and provincial administration to give them serious consideration.

A couple of week before DG Health visited Mianwali, the officials of Planning and Development, Punjab, were there for an onsite inspection in order to set up a university. The district has two MNAs: Imran Khan Niazi and Amjad Khan Niazi. Amjad had submitted applications of development projects and secured instant approval.

Amjad demanded the establishment of the University of Mianwali, and his application along with a covering letter from the PM Office was sent to the Higher Education Commission “for kind perusal/ necessary actions.” It was in this backdrop that onsite inspection was carried out by the DG Punjab Planning Development & Evaluation on the direction of the Punjab HEC chairman.

His another proposal was related to the upgradation of Mianwali as a model city. Right now, there are model villages but there is no model city in Pakistan. If done, Mianwali will be the first city. A proposal submitted by Amjad Khan has been forwarded “for kind perusal of Punjab chief minister” by the PM’s Office. Setting up of the National Science School is another demand initiated through Amjad Khan and forwarded to the relevant department by the PM Office. Subsidy for agriculture consumers of Mianwali has also been sought.

Establishment of Green National Park in four lac acres is yet another project. TV reports quoted Ahmed Khan, PM’s coordinator in his Mianwali constituency, who inspected the proposed venue between Mianwali and Kalabagh and told media that federal government has decided to set up a park there in collaboration with the provincial government.

Meanwhile, MPAs of PTI and allied parties in Punjab have submitted proposals of development schemes on the directions of the Chief Minister’s Office. Each of them was asked to submit plans up to Rs100 million for the current financial year alone. Instead of carrying out development through local bodies, the provincial government is doing it through MPAs and Rs12 billion has been reserved for this purpose. No proposal has been sought from the MPAs of opposition parties.

Punjab’s Information Minister Fayazul Hassan Chohan confirmed the proposals have been invited from MPAs. When asked this practice is contrary to what position has been taken at the federal level, he said the funds have been diverted to lawmakers due to flawed local bodies system which the PTI government intends to reform. Unless it is done, the development will be carried out through lawmakers.

As for as Mianwali projects are concerned, Amjad Niazi told The News some weeks ago that being MNA it is his right to submit proposals for the well-being of Mianwali. Prime Minister’s spokesperson Iftikhar Durrani also confirmed that PM’s Office forwarded Amjad’s proposals to the relevant departments. He however insisted that this was not in violation of the policy adopted wherein discretionary funds were abolished. He said the proposals had been sent to the relevant departments and nobody has been asked to approve them by making changes in the budget. As for the establishment of Green Park is concerned, he said he checked with the provincial forest minister and the plan has not been approved yet. Regarding the university, he said since the campus of Sargodha University is already in Mianwali, it is being upgraded and renamed as the University of Mianwali hence no substantial cost is involved.

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