One of the easiest transactions in political campaigns is to sell hope to the most marginalised but thickly populated communities or groups in the country. If we assess political campaigns and sloganeering in Punjab, all political parties have been selling hope to South Punjab since forever. What makes these transactions fruitful for the political parties is a feeling of deprivation among these communities, which is ultimately translated into a vote bank. Whereas, the vote bank works differently for the people in developed cities.
Those living in Lahore or other parts of developed Punjab cannot really understand what malnutrition, the lifestyle in marginalised communities or the lack of civic facilities in downtrodden areas truly is. If you ever visit a political gathering in a developed city, it is more of a celebration that everybody loves to enjoy. But if you ever visit a political gathering in an underdeveloped district, constituents come to demand for primary schools, basic or rural health centres. Most of those who live in Lahore wouldn’t need to ask for a BHU or RHC, or a primary school. They don’t even need to demand a university because they already have plenty—be it schools or parks. From education to amusement, the developed Punjab has a lot to offer to citizens.
The way former rulers have doled out funds on the development of Lahore and diverted the financial stream to bribe their stronghold further, it would not be unjust to shift the entire development agenda towards South Punjab while ensuring maintenance measures in cities that are now modern. However, people of South Punjab are way above these petty issues. All they ask for is their due share—nothing less and nothing more. Born and raised in South Punjab, my heart beats with the saintly rhythms of Multan, magnificence of glorious Bahawalpur and epitome of cultural harmony due to its geo-strategic position—the Dera Ghazi Khan. As I have witnessed the sense of deprivation—the denial of basic citizen rights—the biggest relief we have been given during the past two years is our representation through our representative. We didn’t need any specific face, we needed fair representation. Although the people of South Punjab had little hope left in the system, Buzdar’s entry in the political arena has made things easier for the people of South Punjab. No other candidate could match the political will for the development of South Punjab that Buzdar has, as he himself was born and raised in the same region. Although a rollercoaster ride but he had two full years to prove it. The Punjab government has started work on eight new universities, 12 new state-of-the-art hospitals and 13 special economic zones. As far as South Punjab is concerned, the development of 500 bedded Nishtar II Hospital is a project of huge impact in the division and the districts of other neighbouring divisions whereas the first ever cardiac hospital is being established in Dera Ghazi Khan, Mother & Child Hospitals and Nursing Colleges are being constructed in Bahawalnagar, Layyah and Rajanpur. This is not just, talk but the projects that one can witness himself. Buzdar has operationalised the first ever technology university in DG Khan, more universities and 43 new colleges are also being developed. South Punjab is destined to grow economically and socially both. The idea of having at least one university in each of the 36 districts is not just about constructing buildings but about building hopes and realising the potential of these reforms. The Buzdar government has effectively paced the development agenda for marginalised districts of the province, he must maintain this pace because no other leader in the past has ever and no other leader in the future would ever put South on the priority list. It’s our chance of getting things done. There are plenty of other things that I do not need to enlist here and there are problems as well but we will get there if Punjab’s leadership continues to refuse compromising on the South Punjab cause.
It is no exaggeration that there were the kind of schools in South Punjab with no electricity or any other basic facilities, Buzdar government has solarised schools which were without light since the day of independence of Pakistan. With the baseless critique, we shall actually be destabilising the flow of development in the entire province. We know what we have been through in the past and how our rights are being looked after now in the current setup. South Punjab is definitely on track and the force behind this is Buzdar.
Those who made derogatory remarks against him in the past probably haven’t been to South Punjab; being polite and down-to-earth is in our blood. Our ethics and our conduct shape our personalities; we are not aggressive, that’s not our weakness but strength. Projecting Buzdar’s kind-heartedness as his shortcoming would be like misunderstanding the people of South Punjab. We are patient and consistent. We do not show off, we like sharing credit. We do not boast about ourselves, we like to value others. Bullies must go and see the developing South Punjab because that is our only response, humble but on point.