LAHORE - PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif yesterday unveiled his party’s manifesto for upcoming elections at PML-N Secretariat here, claiming that it was only they who fulfilled the promises made in the 2013 election manifesto.

The former chief minister said if they won elections they would initiate such development and social welfare projects in all the other provinces as were launched and completed in Punjab by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.

Shehbaz recounted the achievements of his party and the ‘failures’ of their two major rivals – Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan Peoples Party – before a huge gathering of media men, former ministers, party senators and the office bearers.

The ex-CM reiterated his claim of saving Rs170 billion of the national exchequer in the power projects during his previous stint in power and he dared NAB to prove it wrong. He also urged the Supreme Court to ascertain veracity of his claims and punish him if proved wrong.

Shehbaz, who is also his party’s candidate for premiership, said they have done a lot for the people and would do more in next five years - if given chance.

He said the party has plan to empower the layman by broaden the base of ongoing skills development programmes, introduction of agro-based industry and initiation of a number of projects to ensure socio-economic protection.

To help the poor, PML-N president vowed to increase funds for the Rs200 billion Kafalat programme, Zawar-e-Teleem, Punjab Education Endowment Fund, Rozgar scheme.

He also promised giving interest-free loans to small farmers and constructing hundreds of thousands of low-cost houses for the poor and facilitating them in getting loans from banks to buy them a decent abode.

“We introduced health cards in 17 districts in Punjab and on coming to power again, the scope of this programme will be made countrywide while revolutionary steps will be taken in the whole health sector,” Shehbaz said.

Probably taking a leaf out the book of Chief Justice of Pakistan, he declared water scarcity to be a major national issue and pledged to immediately start construction of Diamir-Bhasha Dam, even if it required public donations.

Shehbaz also stressed making the country self-sufficient saying that true national development was not possible unless the nation becomes self-reliant, which in turn required bringing the poor into the mainstream of national economic activity.

He promised to utilise all energies towards the achievement of this goal, though he sounded much like his arch-rival Imran Khan when he said “the day will come when the green passport will command respect at London and Washington airports”.

Besides pledging to minimize the gap between the haves and the have-nots, Shehbaz Sharif pledged to take stern measure to stamp out corruption, curb electricity theft and make the national institutions strong.

Alleging National Accountability Bureau (NAB) of targeting his party and family, the PML-N leader said that “the NAB sun was blazing with full intensity” on them.

At the same time however the anti-corruption watchdog has closed its eyes to others as it was doing nothing in Nandipur corruption case, NICL scam and Rs450 billion scam of Chiniot iron mines, he said.

The NAB has not probed the inordinate delay in Neelam Jehlum hydel power project that caused billons of rupees loss to the national exchequer, he added.

He claimed that all the projects initiated by the PML-N government were absolutely transparent and marked by the quality and speed.

Saying that he was appearing before the NAB despite his innocence, he asked that why NAB has let those go scot-free who looted huge amounts of public money.

Shehbaz Sharif, who also appeared before NAB just a day before in the Saad Paani case, appeared to be dissatisfied with media reporting. He said he in fact had satisfied the bureau on all its queries and told it that he had saved Rs70 billion in this project but the media misreported about it.

Talking about water issue, he said water shortage was a major challenge that his government would deal with on top most priority and funds for it would be raised even through public donations.

The PML-N leader estimated the cost of Diamir Dam at $12 billion and said it would reserve eight MAF water and generate 4500mw of electric power. This project would be of great help in meeting Pakistan’s agriculture and energy needs in addition to absorbing flash gusts.

He said the PML-N not only wanted more energy but also low cost production, as this was essential to move the wheel of national economy through large scale industrialisation and attracting investment to end unemployment.

Shehbaz recounted performance of his government towards ending loadshedding, by putting 11,000mw of power in the national grid, curbing terrorism, bringing peace to Karachi and revamping the economy.

He asked for juxtaposing the manifestos of other parties with PML-N to know which party fully and sincerely implemented its election programme.

“The PML-N will be found far ahead of others,” he said, chiding particularly the PTI, which he said, did nothing towards education, health and energy during its rule in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – though it had made tall claims of delivering on these counts in its manifesto.

Not a single hospital, university or medical lab could be set up in KP while Rs70 billion were wasted away in the name of constructing Metro Bus in Peshawar, the PML-N leader said. He said PTI is not going to win election even in KP this time and asked the KP people to take Imran Khan to task for ruining the province and wasting their money.

“It is only PML-N that implemented its manifesto in letter and spirit and is poised to do further for the masses,” he said.

Shehbaz said there were health and Rozgar (employment) schemes which the PML-N government wanted to implement in other provinces also but they refused and played politics on them.

He said it were the efforts of PML-N government under Nawaz Sharif that brought back lights to Karachi and peace in the country by ending the deep-rooted terrorism.

Shehbaz Sharif said Pakistan is greatly indebted to China for CPEC which is bound to produce huge economic benefits to all provinces through the special industrial zones and other economic activities that are expected to help all sectors of national economy.

He said CPEC related energy projects yielded 3,000mw electricity to the national system, nullifying the impact of low production at dams due to water shortage.

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