By Cofounder: Citizen Awareness Program
Punjab government has long been camouflaging its flaws and deep-rooted loopholes, disguising under gimmicks like Punjab youth festival, business and students related funds and incentives.
Chief Minister of Punjab has the confidence to conduct large-scale events gathering thousands of people on a single platform and creating media sensation winning himself and his political party some points where it lacks capability and efficiency.
Following his own precedence Chief minister held another large-scale gathering of students for breaking Guinness world record for most people hoisting the national flag, which according to the sources was achieved after strict warnings given by the governments to the students in order to acquire the required number of public strength on the venue.
Looking at the social statistics, there is a conspicuous social divide among the people of Punjab, while most of it remains highly deprived in terms of education, energy, health and infrastructural facilities.
Government seems completely occupied distributing laptops and conducting other funding schemes, whereas lack of schools, and large number of school dropouts, it is evident there is absence of sincere efforts in delivering to the society what it needs the most.
On one hand there are politically-motivated individuals who would frequently appear on the television screens to speech and whine about ignorance of Punjab government, and demarcation among the urban and rural Punjab thus making a strong case for creation of new provinces in the country. It is natural that situation like this is most likely to be manipulated by political players, when government keeps their eyes closed to the mounting social issues.
While on the other hand, there are people who would simply argue about Punjab government’s increase in allocation of budget to the South Punjab, they need to be taught that the point is not about increase or decrease in allocation of the budget, but the usage of the budget, even if the allocated budget is meager in amount, if it is not squandered on unproductive activities like Youth Festival or laptop or scooter, or solar lamps, while there is a large percentage of children not attending school for the mere unavailability of school, or absence of awareness regarding importance of education because society plagued with alternate system of education teaching violence-ridden education, producing terrorists who grow up to became allies of the government responsible for eradication terrorism. This is definitely a vicious circle, which needs to come to a halt, and Punjab government, civil society, non-governmental organization have a responsibility to render.
“Of 40 million people living below the poverty line in Pakistan, an estimated 10 million are in Southern Punjab, with poverty levels between 48 and 64 percent in the poorest four districts, far above the average for Northern or Western Punjab”
Therefore, it is widely observed that religious extremism, social and domestic injustices and violence is rampant in areas of South Punjab. While, literacy rate is especially low paving way for religious, ethnic , linguistic and separatist hate-mongers in order to creep inside illiterate minds winning their services for terror menace prevalent in Pakistan today.
As stated by George Bernard Shaw “The greatest of evils and the worst of crimes is poverty.” – signifying that from poverty emanates all the social evils and greatest of crimes, since poverty is a proof itself of a system based on social injustice, which compels those deprived of bare necessities fight for their rights in a manner unacceptable to the law.
See here, how poverty affects human behavior: http://policyforresults.blogspot.com/2013/10/poverty-and-brain.html
>>> What makes the call of Socio-Political divide more observant in Punjab is the existence of hardcore extremist organizations, known to hold credentials for wreaking violence in not just Punjab but around the country.
The government of Punjab must learn the graveness of situation in South Punjab from what has happened in the town of Gojra in near Faisalabad which has a sizeable christian population, where Christian community has suffered at the hands of extremists, extending their influence in urban Punjab, where incidents like Badami Bagh has happened leaving another shameful milestone for Pakistan to remember for long time. The point is though not just remembering but acting upon it, learning from it, and condemning those who are responsible for sabotaging peace of the society. For Punjab, it has to be the South where poverty is concentrated, initiative has to be taken.
Here is the Inquiry Report of the Gojra incident from 2009, released in 2014: https://punjab.gov.pk/?q=system/files/Inquiry_Report_on_Gojra_Incident_2009_0.pdf
“Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ), the Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) and Jaish-i-Mohammad (JM) are allies of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, whereas the government of Punjab remains in a state of denial over existence of any such extremist organizations in the province. A secret report revealed in 2010 that many extremist organizations have their roots and hindings in South Punjab, although A secret report – Talibanisation in Southern Punjab – by the Crime Investigation Department (CID) acknowledges that “the terrorist activities that have taken place in Punjab in the past couple of years invariably prove direct/indirect links with activists` ex-proscribed organisations. This phenomenon does not qualify as spread of Talibanisation in society”.
Giving benefit of doubt to the government of Punjab and their denial over connection of Taliban with extremism in South Punjab, there are still strong evidences proving that minorities in Punjab have repeatedly been suffering at the hand of extremist organizations like SSP, LeJ, JeM. While sectarianism in Pakistan has largely increased over the years, which in its entirety is responsible for smearing the name of Pakistan, deteriorating economic , social and tourism activity in Pakistan, interestingly which Pakistani Muslim League Nawaz seeks to revive during its regime currently.
See here how traces of Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan have met with those in South Punjab: http://centralasiaonline.com/en_GB/pakistan-articles/caii/features/pakistan/main/2011/06/10/feature-01