After unanimously being elected the new Chief Minister of Punjab, the first order to be issued by Sardar Dost Mohammad Khosa was that of fulfillment of a promise made by the PML (N) President, Mian Shahbaz Sharif i.e. conversion of the grand new Chief Minister Secretariat in Lahore into a Girls University for Information Technology.
While majority of the population is hailing the decision and characterizing it as first of the falling pillars of elitist rulers, what many don’t realize is that this move of the new government is an even bigger mistake.
The lavish complex was constructed in the exclusive high-security neighborhood of GOR near the Mall Road and is situated quite next to the old CM Secretariat.
Staggering amounts were spent on an area of 85,000 square meters in a locality where a one-kanal plot is no less than Rs.2.5 million. The whole project cost around 350 million rupees with additional expenses of 110 million, 120 million, 10 million each spent on interior décor, air-conditioning and plantations respectively. Office floors are tiled with granite while Spanish tiles decorate the lavish bathrooms.
According to provided statistics in the press, it will take almost Rs.340 million a year to maintain only this property and that too in a country where 33% of the 162 million population lives on less than a dollar a day. All this expenditure has been labeled as a wastage of public money with least regards of the previous government to the poor of this city particularly and Punjabis generally. And rightly so is the claim true, regardless of the fact that this new secretariat was to serve the seat of the Punjab Chief Minister who was lacking a proper office for years and forgetting the fact that billions were spent on construction of a new Prime Minister Secretariat in Islamabad during the earlier rule of the new government itself.
However, what this new ‘welfare’ government did, totally lacks sense and is a decision of dull proportions. Converting this piece of art into a women’s university is as lame a decision as one that leads to its total destruction. Firstly, it is not the right place for a public educational institution especially for girls referring to the close proximity of high-sensitive government offices and residences of important people in power. Even the disturbance created by blockades to entrances of GOR and regular VIP movement at the old CM Secretariat next door is enough to convince concerned parents in deciding against their children’s admission into such a university, making the whole plan an unfeasible one.
What, on the other hand, would have been a wiser move was to auction the property at prime rates for a luxury hotel or apartments to raise money for construction of a new University at a more feasible and secure location somewhere else in the city.
Otherwise, let the millions already spent on this building go into scrap as students have no interest or motivation in preserving or carefully using the granite tiles or Spanish bathrooms just for the sake of saving people’s money from going into trash.