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Punjab govt doles out funds to losing candidates

Punjab govt doles out funds to losing candidates

RAWALPINDI: Before the forthcoming local government elections, the PML-N Punjab government doled out funds to improve the civic amenities in the city areas through its candidates who were defeated in the 2013 general elections.

Sources said a major chunk of the funds was received by Hanif Abbasi, a former lawmaker from NA-56 from where Imran Khan was elected as the MNA in the 2013 elections.

“The party wanted to get back the seat and for this purpose it provided more funds for the constituency,” said a PML-N local leader requesting not to be named.

For two constituencies of the city areas - NA-55 and NA-56 -, the government provided Rs30 million and Rs100 million, respectively. For the provincial assembly seats of PP-11, PP-12, PP-13 and PP-14, an amount of Rs25 million each has been released.

It may be noted that in the 2013 elections, Awami Muslim League (AML) president Sheikh Rashid Ahmed won NA-55 by defeating Malik Shakil Awan. In NA-56, PTI chairman Imran Khan defeated Hanif Abbasi.

However, the PML-N provincial government is trying to win the upcoming local government elections, especially in the constituency of Imran Khan.

A senior PML-N leader told Dawn that the local party leaders were annoyed with the party’s Punjab chapter president and chief minister Shahbaz Sharif for giving preference to Hanif Abbasi who got Rs100 million funds against Rs30 million each allocated to others.

He said in response to the local leaders’ resentments, the party made it clear that it wanted to win the local government seats in NA-56.

He said the PML-N Punjab chapter had also asked the local leaders to spend the funds on the provision of clean drinking water to the citizens and the improvement of sanitation so that the criticism of the metro bus project by the PTI and Sheikh Rashid could be countered.

Upon this, the former MNAs and MPAs recommended that the funds should be spent on water supply schemes where the PML-N had a strong vote bank.

He said the Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) would execute the projects as these areas fell in the administrative control of the agency. However, he said the Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) was separately asked to construct the road from Shamsabad to I.J. Principle Road at a cost of Rs550 million.

Arif Abbasi, the PTI former district president and MPA from PP-13, lashed out at the provincial government and said instead of providing development funds to the sitting MPAs, it was giving funds to non-elected people.

“We will raise the issue in the Punjab Assembly to know under which law Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif distributed funds among his party leaders. The government did not give a penny to the opposition members for the last two years.”

When contacted, former MNA Shakil Awan admitted that the government had released funds for the provision of facilities to the citizens in all the national and provincial assembly constituencies.

“It is the duty of the government to improve the civic facilities and the provincial government under the leadership of Shahbaz Sharif is working on it. The former MNAs and MPAs would be in a better position to guide the Punjab government about the utilisation of the funds,” he added.

Published in Dawn, August 17th, 2015

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