Islamabad: Half a million workers will benefit from a Pakistan move for transfer of government shares in a chain of enterprises to their employees.

This was officially stated at a ceremony in Lahore where President Asif Ali Zardari handed share certificates to a group of workers under ‘Benazir Employees Stock Option Scheme', named after the late prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

Under the scheme 12 per cent of government shares worth around Rs100 billion (Dh4.36 billion) are being transferred to workers in entities including 16 listed and 33 unlisted public companies, 23 private companies and 14 other units.

In an address on the occasion at the Governor House in the Punjab capital, Zardari said the Pakistan People's Party, which he heads as co-chairman, would strengthen democracy and protect the country.

"PPP government knows how to defeat conspiracies against Pakistan," he said.

The president said that the PPP as the only truly federal party had the potential to "protect, run and strengthen the country".

Governor Salman Taseer said Punjab — where the PPP is in second position in terms of vote bank after the Pakistan Muslim League-N of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif — would be turned into a "PPP fortress".

PPP is part of PML-N led coalition ruling the country's political most important and population-wise largest province.

Bumpy relations

Relations between PPP and PML-N, which is the main opposition party in the federal parliament, have however been bumpy.

But the PML-N leadership has asserted repeatedly the party would never back any attempt to dislodge the democratic system.