Free laptops: Incentive or publicity stunt?

Published: April 12, 2012

The Punjab government’s initiative of distributing laptops among bright students has invited criticism from all quarters, including Transparency International Pakistan (TIP), which has raised questions about this self-proclaimed transparent process.

Initially, the government earmarked Rs2 billion in the annual budget for this scheme and later increased it to Rs3.7 billion. Now, the education department has prepared a PC-I that has projected an amount of Rs4.4 billion for the purchase of 110,000 laptops. The Punjab government inked an agreement with a company for the provision of laptops at the rate of Rs37,700 per unit. The procuring department has now allegedly changed the laptop specifications that were stated in the tenders after the bidding process to facilitate the supplier. According to the contract agreement, 80 per cent of the payment had been released to the bidder in advance and 15 per cent of it has to be paid after the delivery of the laptops.

Distributed laptops are being brought by students to Hafeez Centre, a large computer market in the city, where dealers are offering them prices of Rs12,000 to 15,000 per piece. Dealers said the quality and technical specifications of the provided machines were poor.

Out of the total amount allocated for the purchase of the laptops, Rs253 million is slated to be used for the publicity campaign related to this initiative for PML-N leaders. A similar practice was adopted by the Chaudhries of Gujarat during their Parha Likha Punjab campaign, which was vehemently opposed by the Sharifs.

A company was given a contract for function arrangements and purchases of T-shirts, P-caps and flags for recipients were made in violation of the Punjab Procurement Rules Authority (PPRA) 2009. As many as 39 functions have been arranged and ten more are in the pipeline. One of the biggest functions in the city cost Rs20 million. A province facing a resource crunch is using large amounts of money for self-publicity which is against their oaths.

The TIP has written to the Planning and Development board in Punjab with apprehensions regarding the violation of PPRA in the procurement of 110,000 laptops by the Punjab government, incurring a loss of at least Rs1.7 billion to public exchequer. Senator Pervaiz Rasheed, a spokesperson of the Punjab government, refuted the allegations in a press conference with the stance that all requirements were fulfilled.

Read more by Anwer here.

Anwer Sumra

Anwer Sumra

A reporter for The Express Tribune in Islamabad.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Neutral

    We’re just never happy are we?
    I’m starting having second thoughts about following the media, I mean if people who were on merit and initially had personal laptops are selling them, what is the big deal? If people with personal laptops were not given the SS laptops on merit, I’m sure they would have been protesting and screaming out loud. Strange media, strange politicians and more importantly strange people.Recommend

  • Basharat

    I don’t understand why our media is reporting biased information. My brother has a shop in Hafeez Centre and they have been strictly informed by the Market Manager no Laptop from Shahbaz Shareef Scheme should be bought and none of the shop keeper is buying it. Secondly the processor launched by the Intel in November 2010. How can a machine get obsolete in 13 months or so? What a silly and biased piece of writing. There are more good ways to support PTI instead of criticizing a good act of Govt of Punjab. Thanks to this step lot of families have this facility and they are utilizing it upto maximum extent. The people like u don’t want poor families to have the facility of laptop coz then they can write better than u and non biased for sure. Recommend

  • TJ

    Biased article Recommend

  • Adeel

    Another fake propaganda.Recommend

  • Saud

    Lousy reporting
    All these allegations have been answered several times by PMLN. But they are repeated here afresh without any reference to those clarifications.Recommend

  • Aly Shahab

    Few questions for the concerned authorities;

    Why every time the national exchequer has to bear the burden?
    Why our tax money is being spent relentlessly for the promotion of PML-N?
    Why Rs 20m were spent in a day just to distribute the laptops?
    With whose permission this scheme was rolled out in the first place?
    Did they have a debate on it in the PA?
    Is there anyone to check the irregularities in it?
    Why this SS Project wasn’t sponsored from the Shareef’s themselves as it was solely a publicity stunt for PML’N?
    Don’t we already have enough issues to tackle than distributing laptops?
    Rs.4.4 Billion could have been spent on energy sector; something of vital importance than distributing freebies. This money could have been spent on the education sector itself, i.e. by improving the government schools, colleges and universities. Scholarships could have been rolled out with this huge amount of money.

    But Alas! our so called politicians are buying the potential voters for the upcoming elections. If CM was so concerned about this projects, he could have done it in the first or the second year of this regime, but he didn’t, rather used it as an ace just before the elections. For God’s sake, please reconcile yourself on the path of virtue before Allah’s (SWT) wrath grip us all for good.

    I am not supporting PTI, PPP or MQM or for that sake any political party, I am asking these as being a citizen of Pakistan !Recommend

  • @Bisharat

    You really stole my words dude,,,,, Thumbs upRecommend

  • M.Aswad Mehatb

    Brother I think you are not well familiar with the Tech. stuff as much ..How a processor gets obsolete in 13 months ?? There are 2 new generations already in the market within 2 years core i series …Sandy Bridge and now ivy bridge..
    Originally the specs stated core i3 processors but the laptops have only the dual core, mean it is currently 5 generations old …it is not that initiative that is questionable , it is about its implementability and the Alleged irregularities in question here…

    It is sad to see the point of view of many people that “At-least someone took initiative ” and How shamefully they admit that the corruption is part of our system..As far as they got a free laptop they care for nothing !!Recommend

  • jamal

    re. quality of the laptops. i think its a dell branded laptop and surely not manufactured in pakistan. and i dont think some substandard company will give warranty of 100,000 laptops. common sense!!!Recommend

  • Dr Abdullah

    @neutral and Basharat..UNICEF has cancelled its funds for Punjab Primary schools of villages because they came to know that those funds were used by PML-N for laptops ceremonies..
    Also Punjab govt has reduced funds for all govt hospitals which means that poor pts will suffer even more..Just yesterday a 16 yr old girl died in my ward just because her father couldnt afford a double lumen tube of 4000 rupees..That tube was previously avaiable free of cost in hospitals but after the reduction of funds,its not avaiable for free…I am hopeless with the ppl of this country who are not raising their voices for the injustices of Punjab govt against the poor of this province..Cant believe u guys that u think laptop scheme is a good project..Recommend

  • Ali Tipu

    The tax payers money used for bribing the younger generation. Sharifs are actually quite smart, more than what most of the people actually think. Dont forget, they belong to the same class of ruling elites like that of Gillani and Zardari and one thing that they must have learned over a period of time is that this nation and its people are up for sale and Biqaoo. This newly discovered love for the younger generation was never there before the 30th October mammoth Lahore rally arranged by PTI. If we as a nation still dont understand these filthy tactics of the ruling mafia and continue to sell ourselves over a piece of machine or 3000 Rs of the BISP, then we should also quit crying over the sufferings we recieve at the hands of our rulers.Recommend

  • sars

    Pakistanis need peace , security , public washrooms, and decent level schools. Most of these laptops are going to be used for chatting, skype,facebook etc. less than a percent of laptop distributees are going to use it to do meaningful research or anything productive.
    Concentrate on the basics people.Recommend

  • am

    the way punjab government giving laptops makes every other country must think we are the richest country in the world . zadari/nawaz/juif/anp/Q only think vote can only be gained through bribing Recommend

  • Nasir Iqbal

    Come on now this should be stopped..If anyone has any proves of corruption, just file a case against that and prove it in courts instead of just writting over here. Many of friends and relatives recived these laptops and none of them has any complaints.Students are visiting Hafeez Center just to install Windows XP as the already installed window is not XP which is very user friendly and easy to use.Recommend

  • Ashar

    Exploiting the Youth. There is no need of Laptop at this stage of education.Recommend

  • Mongphalli

    How ironic but why is it taking so long for Chief Justice to take action on this.Recommend

  • Amna

    I really wish someone would ask the Sharifs where the “merit” was when Musharraf was promoted to Chief of Army StaffRecommend

  • rana

    @Nasir Iqbal: just one question..Could you please elaborate what is the use of these laptops for students who are doing M.A urdu, M.A Islamyiat etc? Recommend

  • Parvez

    Let me say this again : The people do not need laptops. They want and need, good governance, across the board justice, security for self and business, a corruption free environment, clean drinking water, uninterrupted power 24/7, religious tolerance, decent medical facilities, affordable education for all, an end to the manipulated price spiral on food and daily necessities.
    Once they have the above they will have a reason to smile and a stupid laptop will have no significance.Recommend

  • Sameer Awan

    Seriously how come Dell brand have a Poor quality. There could be other valid reasons to argue but I cannot understand why the writer emphasized on quality of Dell brand when Dell is the most famous brand in laptops in the world. Also I agree that this scheme is politicized but strangely everyone is challenging Laptop scheme but our media is silent on much bigger scam of Benazir Income support fund of PPP where more than 20 billion are spent with no accountability what so ever? Recommend

  • Sameer Awan

    @rana I can only say that you are living in an ignorant world. Arts and humanities need technology know how as well in this globalized world. For history, arts and cultural learning now a days technology playa a vital role. Laptops can play an important role in the upbringing of these students. When you want to do some research the world is just a click away. There are many Open Universities in the world including Virtual University of Pakistan which give free lectures on internet and you can benefit from it. Also you can interact with other researchers around the world and you can contribute and write you own blogs and articles like on this website Express Tribune.
    Also now a days E-Books is a recent trend where you can read your books on the laptop and E readers. Furthermore all digital libraries around the world can be accessed just a click away. So tech which includes laptops as well play a vital role in Study of arts as well.Recommend

  • ali

    Either its a incentive or a public stunt…the beneficence are common public.Recommend

  • popsaeed

    Those who crticise giving laptop to students are living in dark ages they will never ever agree on positive development of people of pakistan
    All over the world goverenment facilitate student just take exampme of india distributing mini computer to poor student.All critics just search in google you will find more positive usage of laptop by student

  • zaki baig

    i have another question in my mind, Mr. Nawaz Sharif is not an elected member of parliament then why should he is giving the laptops to the youth who nominated him to promote his party and get into the limelight with the nation’s money. Why the hell all of the politicians using our money to execute their agendas. Recommend

  • popsaeed

    @zaki baig:
    Iam a tax payer and iam happy that my money is utilized in good projectRecommend

  • Saud

    CM Punjab has saved a lot of money by keeping his cabinet small and saving salaries, perks and privileges of additional ministers. The money saved is being spent on the students on merit. Where is the problem? People, please focus on hugely wasteful expenditures by the federal govt, such as the president and his 40 thieves trip to India and $1 million donation to a shrine there.Recommend

  • tayeb

    One of the best decision of Punjab Governament.Please don’t be be so silly and always support the good decision.Mian Shahbaz Sharif doing all his best in pujab even there are many problems in center.We should support like this projects.See the motor wyas when started,was opposed by Benazir and Glulam Ishaq Khan but see now providing billions,Let us support Mian NAwaz to progress the country to becom ASIAN TIGER as it was planned called 2010,but unfortunately Musharaf has destroyed everything.And Princess of Bani Galla was with him in this dirty act.Recommend

  • tayeb

    Please he si the chief of PMLN who is in power in Punjab and if right things happen through him support him.He is the honuor of pakistan.He spent millions on charities,sharif family is the largest family who donates millions in different fields.especially in medical and education [email protected] baig: Recommend

  • KHAN

    third class propaganda, I think PTI is not correct it should be PTP,Pakistan Tareek i propanda.Imran niazi does not sleep if he not mentioed Mian Nawaz name 100 times a day but on the other hand mian sb even never thought of him…Recommend

  • RWP

    Yes you will see like this in PTI eyes but reality is different.This programmed is transparent and good for youth.Imran Khan should return his house which he took from Nawaz Sharif by requesting in writting that he is very poor…SHAME SMAE living in Palace of BANI GALLA
    and his full life was in clubsRecommend

  • MIanwali

    I think you are for away from truth my dear.PMLN doing well and transparentRecommend

  • Multan

    This is a great programme and appreciate Mian Shahbaz Sharif……Now in multan there is lot of work started as earlier HAshmi was looking for his daughter to be elected now workers are well respected.Recommend




    NO my dear you are wrong and hospitals are getting more facilities and medicines are provided free in all Punjab. We thnak Shahbaz Sharif related to medical [email protected] Abdullah: Recommend


    YES credit should go to the party who delivers like motor ways,Air ports<NUKE TEST,and all other truth of PMLN don't worry the money is going to Hashmees,Makhdooms,Lagaries,Treens,Mafias,IN JUWA and other activites and i feel proud that my money going to good place in shape of lap top to youth of [email protected] Shahab: Recommend


    It is the government of Pakistan who decides to who should be appoint for the post it does not mean you break the law and [email protected]: Recommend

  • Eng.ADNAN

    I think this article based on personal disliking and the programme id very good for the youth in this modern period of life.What Shahbaz sharif is doing is better than all others doing now a days.We should suppot himRecommend

  • Peshawar

    Dear Shahbaz Sharif please next time you should be the CM of KPK we need a Shahbaz Sharif here on urgent basis.We should not crrticise the good moves.Recommend

  • Yasir Mehmood

    please give PMLN a break. Look at your previous posted articles on tribune they are all same PTI propoganda against PMLN. Next time please try to come with something more construvtive and substantial.Recommend

  • M.Aswad Mehatb

    @Tayyab Yes Really Credit Goes to PMLN They Took 3 decades to accomplish a Motorway,A nuke test, a Ring Road an Airport and Free laptops ..Awsom Performance .. How ironic !!

    Look Around what other countries did with 3 decades …Recommend

  • Sameer Awan

    Main Nawaz family is actually a Kashmiri family and now they are Punjabis as Punjabi definition is based on cultural and linguistic lines so they are Punjabis now. So still they represent Kashmiris in Punjab and in Pakistan as well like Sheikh Rasheed.Recommend

  • tayyab

    Mehtab sb,Mian Nawaz Sharif period was of 2 1/2 years only and next was 2-1/2 as well and anti pakistan forces stopped him to bring pakistan in asian best country as India took 2010 vision of main sb and where India is now.He has hte best political team and himself a great leader.There were roads soreding around the Pakistan,Air ports,Cannals,Fiber optic,Defence roads,Basic infrastructure,Universities and colleges,hospitals.really it was progressing pakistan but Musharaff destryed everything with the help of Bani Gallla Price who was supporting him that time…[email protected] Mehatb: Recommend

  • Rizwan Tariq

    since these laptops were manufactured on consignment, they have a simple vga card, single core processor. although they are new machines, still they have a lot of complains. i visited office of inbox technologies who are giving warranties. they are also blaming punjab govt for poor planning. according to them a refurbished laptop is available for Rs20k in the market with better features compared to these laptopsRecommend

  • shahid

    Respected CM, All those brilliant students of QAMC Bahawalpur who were selected for the award of laptops but could not be given due to non-registration, are now anxiously waiting for their turn to receive laptops. Kindly also consider them at the earliest convenience. Thanks.Recommend

  • SAJ

    We don’t need laptops…we need a country who can build it’s own brands of laptops in the future… stop fooling us!Recommend

  • yasir raza

    very good work by Govt of punjab…… look great to me.Recommend