Identified as a strict and competent administrator, Shahbaz Sharif is the twenty-first and current chief minister of Pakistan’s most populous province; Punjab. Since 2008, he is popularly known as ‘Khadim e Ala’ or the Chief Caretaker.
When we see his efforts as admirers, we get to know of his attempts to develop Punjab into a better place to live. He has introduced various development projects, characterized by transparency and competence. His schemes like ‘Sasta tandoor’, ‘Ashiana ghar’ and laptops distribution throughout Punjab have been particularly impressive.
The domain in which Punjab Government under Sharif has made the most progress is education. The Danish School Project has been initiated to provide quality education – to the rich as well as the poorest sections of the society. The Danish School, Chistian has successfully achieved a prominent status in the 64 schools selected for the internationally known Microsoft Innovative Pathfinder School Program for 2013.
The Microsoft Innovative Pathfinder Schools Program serves to ensure that the improvement of education takes place, all over the world. Any school becoming a part of this initiative is provided with educational expertise as per international standards. The schools affiliated with this program can even make joint efforts to spread the culture of inventions, throughout the world.
The Danish School, Chistian is one of those 64 schools which have been chosen due to their performance out of hundreds of thousands of the applications received, worldwide. This shows us the efforts made by Shahbaz Sharif for the enhancement of education in Punjab. Danish schools are playing a significant role in developing the careers of students’ – they are likely to get opportunities for quality education and employment not only in Pakistan, but abroad as well which today, only the rich can afford.
Another historic achievement of Khadim e Ala’s current regime is the establishment of Land Record Information Management System – an internationally acknowledged plan with the collaboration of World Bank – scheduled to be completed by 2015. The objective is to ensure the input of documented data about the ownership of land into a computer database.
In Punjab, the first computerized land transfer was done in Kasur on May 28, 2011. The fee for land transfer is deposited in the bank with no hidden charges, and the revenue officer informs about the transfer through an electronic thumb impression. Thus, the land transfer immediately becomes a part of the land record. A copy of the transfer and ownership is provided to both the seller and the purchaser of land, with the record being automatically uploaded.
The Punjab Government has been appreciated by the World Bank as its Country Director; Rachid Benmessaoud remarked that “Punjab is leading the way in fusing together the rural and urban development agenda”. He also said that “Improved planning, resource management, and accountability in the larger cities of the province will turn them into true engines of growth, improving quality of life for citizens and reducing poverty. The project will also improve Punjab’s Capacity to respond to emergency situations”. Apart from this verbal appreciation; the World Bank’s executive directors have approved an additional funding of $70 million for Punjab Land Records Management and Information System.
Other than the above mentioned initiatives, reforms have also been made in the domains of municipal services, land, and agriculture. At a time when the Pak — US Relations are facing a hard time, World Bank has signalled the provision of funds for development projects encompassing the Punjab Municipal Services Improvement Projects costing $50 million, Jinnah Barrages and others costing $145.60 million, Land Record Management and Information System worth more than $45.6 million and Punjab Agriculture Productivity Improvement Program worth $250 million.
The acknowledgement and funding of schemes from Microsoft and the World Bank is enough to respond to the opponents and critics who make baseless allegations of corruption against the Punjab Government. Its successes are enough to show that they have the best of accountability mechanisms and resource managers.
Illustration by Auroba Tariq