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Distribution of Prizes worth Rs.55 million among Students Belonging to all Regions of Pakistan

A Glorious Example of National Integrity Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif has always given a practical demonstration of his knowledge friendly nature by working tirelessly for the progress of educational sector.

There is no denying the fact that knowledge is the only power that enables the nations to march on the road to progress. By dint of knowledge, nations make rapid headway in commercial, industrial, social, economic and all other walks of life. But unfortunately, even in this age of knowledge and enlightenment, Pakistan lags far behind other nations in terms of literacy rate. As far as mental capabilities are concerned, it is a matter of great pride that Pakistani students are by no means inferior to the students of other nations but, it is a shocking phenomenon that owing to the lack of educational facilities and conducive atmosphere, during the previous years, our students have not been able to show those results which may fulfil the modern requirements. Its main reason is that in the past, no serious and concrete steps were taken for the promotion of education in our country. From time to time, political slogans were chanted for the provision of academic facilities to the youngsters, but in practical terms, they yielded no results. However, the Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif has always given a practical demonstration of his knowledge friendly nature by working tirelessly for the progress of educational sector and encouraging the students by providing them every possible incentive, so that they may gain access to modern sciences and arts. Through his revolutionary steps for the promotion of education, he has proved that like the rich and the elite, the poor and the common people of Pakistan, also have the right to benefit from the country’s resources.

The laudable steps taken by Shahbaz Sharif and his government for the uplift of the student community have no parallel in the country’s history. These steps include distribution of cash prizes among position holders in matriculation and intermediate examinations, study tours of renowned British and other European universities, distribution of laptops, Shahbaz Sharif Scholarship Programme, Danish schools, computer labs, and promotion of Information Technology. Instead of confining the educational resources of Punjab to the students of the same province, Shahbaz Sharif has enabled the students of Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and other three provinces as well, to benefit from them. According to him, Pakistan does not merely consist of Punjab, it also includes Sindh, Balochistan, KPk, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit- Baltistan. For the welfare of the youth community of Punjab, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has announced a historic and comprehensive Youth Policy 2012, which includes distribution of laptops among intelligent students, reservation of 15 per cent seats for women in government jobs, setting up of Women Employment Fund, Internship Programme for 50,000 graduates of Punjab, Full Bright Scholarship Programme for 500 students studying at various universities of the province, setting up of Sports Fund with a sum of two billion rupees, the start of Youth Tractor Scheme for the students who have completed their studies at Agriculture University and the start of Youth Scud Programme in south Punjab. This year too, like previous years, at an impressive ceremony held at the Chief Minister House. A special feature of this ceremony was that besides the top position holders of Punjab, the students of Balochistan, KPk and other regions of the country were also given prizes as a reward for their hard work. Speaking on the occasion, the chief minister said, ‘If public service projects are a sin, I am determined to repeat this sin a hundred times for the poor people of my country.’

The fact is that those who criticise the public welfare schemes, do not like that the poor of the country should also enjoy better facilities and good life style.

‘The Punjab government is striving hard to promote quality education and to provide access to education for every child.’

 The ceremony was attended by the Speaker Punjab Assembly Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan, Senator Zulfikar Ali Khan Khosa, provincial ministers Mian Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rahman, Haji Hassanuddin Quraishi, Iqbal Channar and Malik Nadim Kamran, Advisor Zaeem Husain Qadri, assembly members, vice-chancellors, principals, intellectuals, columnists, teachers, parents and a large number of male and female students. During the ceremony, prizes worth Rs. 55 million were given away to the top position holders belonging to all regions of the country. The chief minister congratulated the students and said that for the last four years, the Punjab Government has been holding the same ceremony, for the encouragement of the hardworking position holders belonging to the four provinces, Federal Board, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. 35,000 scholarships are being given to brilliant students having financial difficulties, through Punjab Educational Endowment Fund started with the sum of ten billion rupees. The brilliant and bright students of KPk, Balochistan, Sindh, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan are also included among the recipients of these scholarships. ‘Quality education is the right of every child,’ remarked the chief minister, and added, ‘Educating the young generation is the responsibility of the state and the Punjab government is making earnest endeavours to promote quality education, so that every child may gain easy access to education. In the 16 Danish schools set up in the most backward regions of the province, children living in dust covered streets are getting better education than the students of Aitchison and Grammar schools. The students who secure top positions are being sent on study tours to the finest universities of the world, which has given a big boost to their confidence level.’

Addressing the function, the chief minister further remarked, ‘Pakistan is facing some of the worst challenges. The plunderous activities of ‘Ali Baba and Forty Thieves’ have brought the country’s economy to the brink of disaster. For the last 65 years, the country has been under the rule of aristocrats, who have been enjoying all the blessings and luxuries of life, while the poor are still deprived of even the basic facilities of life.’

‘The Punjab government has diverted all resources to the welfare of the poor; and for the first time in history, air conditioned bus service has been started for the poor workers and labourers,’ informed the chief minister. ‘I am going to introduce the finest transport system for the poor, but our opponents do not like to see the economically deprived people enjoying the finest facilities of life. For this very reason, they are criticising all public welfare schemes.’

Talking about the Metro Bus Service Project, he said, ’28 billion rupees are being spent on this project, which would provide swift means of transport to the people. The federal government has not given us even a single penny for this project, but we are still working on it, depending solely and wholly on the resources of Punjab.’

Referring to the dengue, he said, ‘Last year, Punjab had to face the worst outbreak of dengue epidemic. Politicians, government officials and people belonging to all segments of society worked day and night and saved thousands of lives; and by the grace of God, the situation is well under control this year.’

Earlier, the chief minister distributed prizes among the position holders. He announced to give a house in Ashiana Scheme to Muhammad Naeem, belonging to a village in Pak Patan, who got first position in Multan Board. The chief minister offered that if Naeem was not interested in getting a house in Ashiana Scheme, he could have a new house in Pak- patan. It should be remembered that Naeem comes of a very poor family and his house has been damaged in the recent rains.

 ‘We are thankful to the Punjab chief minister for increasing the number of students from Gilgit-Baltistan in the medical colleges and engineering universities of Punjab.’
 Students who had come from all over the country paid glowing tributes to the education friendly policies of the Punjab Chief Minister. Mashriq Khan, who has stood first in the whole province of Balochistan thanked him for providing Central Heating System to his school in the backward district of Zoab, to save the students from severe cold. ‘If the chief minister of Balochistan had followed the footsteps of the Punjab chief minister, our province would also have made progress,’ remarked Mashriq Khan. ‘By inviting to Lahore brilliant students from all over the country, Shahbaz Sharif has highlighted the sayings and ideals of Iqbal and the Quaid,’ said Muhammad Saad Ayubi, who has got first position in Karachi Board.

Sunena Meer, who obtained first position in Karakoram International University Board in Gilgit-Baltistan, remarked that the efforts being made by the Punjab chief minister are contributing to the promotion of education in her region. She thanked him for increasing the number of seats for the students of Gilgit-Baltistan in the Engineering Universities and Medical colleges of Punjab. According to her, the chief minister of Gilgit-Baltistan should learn from the Punjab chief minister, how to work for the promotion of education. Expressing her opinion, Hamna Arshad, who has stood first in KPk, appreciated the extraordinary efforts of the Punjab chief minister for the progress of education. ‘The way in which he has gathered the intelligent students from all over the country under one roof, proves the fact that he wants to see a progressive and prosperous Pakistan, free from all troubles.’

Faraz Farooq, the top position holder from Azad Kashmir, was of the view that Shahbaz Sharif is struggling to build that kind of Pakistan, which can really be called the Pakistan of Quaid-e-Azam. ‘Without showing any provincial prejudice, he has invited all of us here. The chief ministers of other provinces should also do the same.’

Urooj Mustafa, the top position holder in Federal Board complained that in spite of her getting first position, she was not contacted or encouraged by any official of her region and thus, she was highly grateful to the Punjab chief minister for inviting her to Lahore and encouraging her. She advised the young students to fully benefit from the scholarships provided by the  Punjab Chief Minister and put the country on the path to progress.

A poor boy Muhammad Naeem, who has stood first in Multan Board, thanked the Chief Minister for opening the doors of the CM House to the impoverished students like him. He prayed for a long life for the Chief Minister. Saeed Anwar, who has topped in the seventh class examination in Danish Schools, was specially invited to attend the ceremony.

By: Athar Ali Khan

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