Sharif’s ancestral village in Punjab’s development agenda

Punjab seems to be taking the lead in promoting better ties between India and Pakistan and as part of that effort, the state government has decided to fast track development at the ancestral village of Pakistani Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in Tarn Taran district. The Pakistan Punjab chief minister is the brother of former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The Sharif's family lived at Jati Umra village at Tarn Taran before migrating to Pakistan. The family's ancestral property now houses a gurdwara.

On December 17, the Pakistan Punjab chief minister will accompany Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal to lay the foundation stones for an array of development work at Jati Umra, to kick start the process of making the village a model one.

Among the projects lined up include ones for metalled roads, sewerage system, concrete flooring in streets, community hall, water supply system to renovation of village schools and the construction of boundary walls at the village's cremation grounds.

"We have approved all what the villagers wanted. Jati Umra is the ancestral village of Pakistani Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif. So, this is a goodwill gesture aimed at furthering confidence building measures between India and Pakistan," Punjab Public Relations Minister Bikram Singh Majithia told The Indian Express.

"There are a number of leaders, in both India and Pakistan, who have their ancestral villages across the border. By putting Jati Umra village on an accelerated path of development, we want to convey the message that we care for the emotional attachment of the Pakistani Punjab CM and his family with their ancestral village," Majithia added.

The Punjab minister further said that Sharif's mother will also accompany him during his visit to the village. "Despite failing health, his mother was very keen to visit Jati Umra and she will accompany Sharif," Majithia said.

While Sharif was to visit Jati Umra on December 16, his trip has been postponed to December 17 as the Pakistan Punjab chief minister is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on December 16.

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