Pakistan opens Metro Bus System amid protests in Lahore



Lahore: Pakistan on Sunday inaugurated an ambitious multi-million dollar Metro Bus System, the country's first major urban public transport project, here amidst protests by doctors.

In anticipation of a march by the doctors towards the route of the inaugural run by the hi-tech buses, police used batons to disperse the protesters and arrested 30 of them. The police also beat women doctors on Jail Road.

"Some 70 doctors, including women, sustained injuries due to brutal torture by police on the orders of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif," Salman Kazmi, an official of the Young Doctors Association, told a news agency.

The project was inaugurated by PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan in this eastern city, known as the cultural capital of Pakistan.

Kazmi said the doctors wanted to hold a peaceful protest but the Punjab government was worried about its impact on the inauguration of the Metro Bus System and unleashed police on them. He said some 30 doctors had been arrested.

"In protest, we have stopped work at all hospitals of Punjab province," he said. The doctors are protesting to pressure the government to improve their service structure and to provide free medicines at hospitals.

The Punjab government says the Metro Bus System was completed at a cost of Rs 30 billion but critics contend that the actual cost was Rs 80 billion.

Chief Minister Sharif said the 27-kilometre MBS route from Gajjumata to Shahdara will provide efficient transportation to residents of several areas of Lahore. Twenty-seven stations have been built on the route for the convenience of passengers.

As many as 30,000 people are expected to travel every day on 45 modern articulated buses.

The envoys of several countries, including India, participated in the inauguration ceremony.

PTI