15 April | 2024

Lahore, Pakistan

Maryam to transform Punjab into economic hub, safe for all

Punjab CM announces free medicines at govt-run hospitals, youth loan program, free and quality education, dedicated helpline for women

Pakistan Muslim League-N Senior Vice President Maryam Nawaz, while making history after being elected as the first female chief minister in Pakistan, has said that her political party had developed an extensive and comprehensive agenda for the Punjab province.

In a victory speech at the Punjab Assembly in Lahore, she revealed her plan to transform Punjab into an economic hub by creating an enabling environment for businesspersons. She said that the government-run businesses should be converted into a public-private partnership. “We will facilitate business community for the economic revival,” she said.

“If any child wants to study on merit and they do not have the means, the Punjab government will provide funds for them,” she said, and highlighted that the Punjab Education Endowment Fund would be revived and taken forward. She said that the government would decide the criteria for sponsoring education of gifted students, who were capable of getting into renowned schools and universities but were unable to go due to financial restraints.

Maryam Nawaz says she dreamed of a Punjab where any minority did not have to spend night in fear

Maryam Nawaz said that she would revive the youth loan program, which included schemes for providing interest-free loans, skills training and devices such as laptops and tablets. She said that there were several government internship programs currently underway but they were not paid. She issued orders to the institutions to increase the internship programs and pay interns a minimum of twenty five thousands rupees.

Announcing setting up incubators, she also promised to provide the youth with resources to start their own businesses. She announced a school transport system, and said that she would also focus on developing the curriculums of government schools. “I am working on a model for a private-public partnership to incentivize education.” She said that she wanted each district of the province to have a state-of-the-art hospital, so that patients would not have to travel extensively for medical treatment.

Maryam Nawaz said that Punjab’s first air ambulance would be announced within the next 12 weeks to improve healthcare for the people living in hilly areas. She said that she had directed Rescue 1122 to begin a motorized ambulance service. She emphasized that the safety of women was her first priority. “I am announcing a dedicated helpline for women,” she said, and added that she wanted to create a better, and safer Punjab for women.

She said that she would work on creating respectable working women hostels. “As a mother, I understand that working women worry about their children,” she said, adding that she will work to create daycare centers at every workplace. She lauded Gulberg Circle ASP Shehr Bano for protecting the life of a girl wearing a dress with Arabic calligraphy from an attack by a charged mob in Lahore.

“I am willing to work 24/7 to empower women financially, socially and professionally,” she said, adding that she had a special package for the transgender community to bring them into mainstream society. She said it was her responsibility to protect marginalized communities, including women and minorities, and change societal attitudes towards them. Calling minorities the crowning glory, she said she dreamed of a Punjab where any minority did not have to spend the night in fear.

‘I am willing to work 24/7 to empower women financially, socially and professionally’

Maryam Nawaz said that it was now high time to focus on digital Punjab. She said it was her plan to create at least five digital cities by the end of her tenure. She said she had given someone the responsibility of bringing tech giants to the country. “Whatever incentive they require, the resources they need, the government will provide. We will ask them to come and open their offices in Punjab,” she said. She pledged to provide free WiFi in major cities of Punjab.

She said that it was the government responsibility to facilitate each and every young person interested in artificial intelligence and machine-learning to enhance their skills. She noted that the safe city project was introduced in Lahore, adding that it would be introduced in 18 cities. She said that she would introduce women police stations. She said that she would also have zero tolerance for police high-handedness. She said that she would work on improving the police’s response time.


Nida Kirmani, associate professor of sociology at Lahore University of Management Science, said that the election of Maryam Nawaz as the chief minister may not necessarily be a victory for women’s empowerment, it was certainly a landmark event in Pakistan’s political history. “One hopes that she will use her position to further the cause of gender equality and set an example for the rest of the country to follow,” she said. “Like other women in powerful positions, Maryam Nawaz will have to work twice as hard to prove herself as a worthy political leader in her own right.”

Commentator Asma Shirazi said the biggest challenge for her would be to revive her party’s popularity in the province. “She has to focus on performance, but also how she behaves with her rivals. She must keep the house together,” she said. Gender rights activist Afiya Shehrbano Zia thinks Maryam Nawaz should reach out to those committed to fighting the larger challenges in the province. “If her office shows a strong female face, much can be achieved and she will gain legitimacy,” she said, adding that she must carve out her own identity.