One marvels at Shehbaz Sharif quest to improve the system

 
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All surveys conducted so far indicate CM Punjab is favorite candidate for Premiership

High time for other provinces to learn from Shehbaz model

ISLAMABAD, Aug 21 (TNS):  Shehbaz Sharif is being considered as the most favorite for the post of Premiership of Pakistan by majority of the people of Pakistan. As far as his performance is concerned, all the surveys conducted in the years from 2009-2017 point towards this reality.

When questioned, the bulk of respondents wanted Shehbaz Sharif to be a Prime Minister of Pakistan, 59% endorsed Shehbaz Sharif, according to GALLUP Pakistan survey.

A total of 56.5% voted in the favor of Shehbaz Sharif when asked who can turn Pakistan into a developed country. When quizzed about how honest the leading candidates for the post of Prime Minister are, 49.3% voted in favor of Shehbaz Sharif. To a query on provincial government’s performance, 79% respondents voted in the favor of Shehbaz Sharif.


Punjab province always got majority votes in the survey conducted about the four year performance. When PILDAT sought data from provincial government, Punjab was the only province that shared access to information regarding current and past figures. PLIDAT appreciated Punjab government and Punjab CTD.

All the questions put to respondents in the survey demonstrated that the Punjab province has shown great improvement in the implementation of National Action Plan. According to the survey by PLDAT establishing and deploying a dedicated counter terrorism force helped in improving the security situation in the province.

Zero tolerance for militancy in Punjab was atop the priority list. Militant outfits and armed gangs were not allowed to operate and the results were quite satisfactory. Communication network of terrorist were dismantled completely. Dealing firmly with sectarian terrorist has been very satisfactory.

Registration and regulation of religious seminaries was also a great feat. The measures adopted against abuse of social media for terrorism remained highly satisfactory and widely lauded.

Other achievements included expeditious development of Lahore and other districts of the province by the Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif. He took keen interest in the development of the province of Punjab and has worked hard over the last 9 years.

Shehbaz Sharif has completed the development projects with commitment and passion and has supervised the development schemes with diligence. That is why beautiful scenes and great examples of development works are seen all around in Punjab.

There is no doubt that the credit of the development of the province goes to the chief minister. Exemplary work has been done to complete the development projects in record period of time, under the supervision of the Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

Lahore Orange Line Metro Train Project will be a revolution in the transport sector of Punjab. This is the best service of Shehbaz Sharif. As metro bus has benefitted the low-income families, similarly, the Orange Line Metro Train project will also do well for the poor people of the city.

After the success of the metro bus project in Lahore, metro bus service is successfully performing its operations in Rawalpindi-Islamabad and Multan, as well and that service will also be extended to other districts of the province.

Shehbaz Sharif developed a reputation of sorts during his first tenure (1997-99) as the chief minister of Pakistan’s largest province. His dedication and long working hours were legendary and he would often be seen walking himself in knee-deep water, after a monsoon rain, to get to areas inundated by the water and oversee relief work. One cannot help marvel at his quest to improve the system.

A decade later, the chief minister was back. Shahbaz Sharif, true to his reputation, has undertaken major development works across the big cities of Punjab and this contributed to a significant expansion in the province’s infrastructure, all of which seems to be a response to the needs of an articulate urban population that votes for his party.

During the last one year, the urban youth have also factored into provincial governance and we have witnessed several programs to engage and mobilize this particular segment of Punjab’s population.

When compared to the other three provinces, he stands out for his responsiveness and ability to set the parameters of governance right. Service delivery indicators in Punjab, especially in the education sector, have been encouraging. More importantly, there seems to be an effort to innovate and encourage citizens to have a voice and give feedback.

The ongoing citizen feedback model, perhaps, is the best example of Punjab’s willingness to tackle service delivery failures and corruption. Using simple SMS technology, the initial Jhang model of seeking public feedback has been expanded in the last few years. Across the province now, a phone call with the voice of the chief minister greets a citizen if the services provided were satisfactory. People who get their property transferred or interface with local officials are then asked to send an SMS. Thus far, under the Punjab model, 70,000 such SMSs have been received. The service has nearly half a million users and thousands are added on a daily basis.

Corruption data is also available with the provincial government. Over a thousand calls are made every day. For instance. 73,000 citizens were contacted to check if they had to pay bribes for registering property. More than 16 per cent answered and registered complaints. Public officials behave differently if they know they are being monitored and there is scope for accountability. The chief minister and his secretariat are tracking this process and have involved the talented LUMS academic Umar Saif in the process, who is helping the provincial government to install and improvise these systems.

The data on public feedback is not open to all yet and this is vital to ensure that there is transparency and that a system of accountability is in place. It is time for other provinces to learn from this model. Also, development partners need to make this essential to the investments they make in Pakistan’s social sectors. Citizens across the country are losing faith in the state due to abuse of authority by the police, by the arbitrariness of revenue authorities and the non-functioning of health and education facilities. Such data can help track the performance and also improve the state’s delivery of services. Of course, there is a lot more that needs to be done. The greatest challenge is to institutionalize innovations such as these. However, the younger Sharif knows that good governance intersects with smart politics.

 

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