I travelled from Toronto to Lahore last weekend. In the departure lounge I met some friends and we chatted crisscrossing between Canadian and Pakistani issues. At that moment it hit me that I was amongst the lucky ones who can claim I am travelling from one home to the other home. I was met in Lahore by my friend, my confidante, my “atoot ang” Afzal Ghauri. A ritual repeated over a hundred times in the last 30 years. Ghauri is an ardent PTI supporter like me who silently absorbs information and makes astute political remarks. On our way home (Hassan Nisar’s residence) his remark about the Chief Minister confirmed what was irking me. CM was like a nail on the road that can flatten the best tire! Within a few days it became evident to me that PTI Government is facing serious challenges in Punjab. It was totally lacking effective governance. Chief Minister Usman Buzdar is fast turning into PTI Governments’ Achilles Heel. He is floundering on all fronts except gratifying his own kith and kin.
The icing on the cake is recent passage of Punjab Parliament’s bill for self
gratification. The PTI entrants who boarded the last train before or after the National
elections are rewarding themselves for the hard work and toil they put in to
making life comfortable for the masses. It is a masterpiece of self delusion. The
speedy passage was based on greed and callousness. What a shameful gesture. It
was timely intervention from PM Imran Khan that prevented this debacle.
There may be some merit in the need to adjust compensations according to changing
times but this timing was awful. The middle and working class is hurting badly
with the rising costs in their daily lives. They are being urged to give sacrifices
for a better future. Yet their elected representatives choose to reward
themselves. What a failure of leadership! And CM Buzdar is in the middle of it
all. His entire focus is on making appointments to key positions of near and dear
ones. Merit is being thrown out of the window. Corrupt practices continue to be
prevalent. PTI’s core platform of rooting out corruption is seriously
haemorrhaging. Nepotism is at its height. My sources inform me that CM Buzdar
is seeking a multinational car manufacturers’ dealership. His link up with Bani
Gala was exposed during Maneka/police fiasco. However he continues to service
this nexus by making appointments as dictated. To expose these back channel
beneficiaries will require a full-fledged inquiry.
After over six months of PTI rule in Punjab the credibility of the Party is going
downhill. There is little or zero progress in implementing PTI’s agenda for change:
Police reforms; administrative reforms; enforcement of laws; use of merit; progressive policies in Agriculture; job
creation; relief to common man from the rigours of bureaucratic tyranny; and
above all a transparency in decision making. They are all non starters.
I would like to share an anecdote conveyed by someone who was present on this occasion. Prime Minister Imran Khan had a one on one meeting with Hassan Nisar, a prominent media personality who has contributed greatly and supported the reform agenda of PTI. At the end of the meeting as he emerged, he was greeted by CM Buzdar, his cabinet colleagues and other prominent people present. Mr. Buzdar inquired from Hassan “how are you doing?” Hassan Nisar’s response was interesting as it conveyed the whole scenario. “I am fine Buzdar sb, because I do what I know and what I enjoy doing” and he continued to inquire from Mr. Buzdar “How are you when you are doing something you know nothing about; and doing nothing about it either?” There was a sheepish smile from Mr. Buzdar, embarrassed and subdued laughter around the room. This pretty much capsules what is going on in Punjab for over six months. Frustration is building up amongst the Party faithful, and well wishers.
I was talking to some friends close to the scene. Chief Minister Buzdar is quite
a phenomenon. He is known to sit through serious presentations without an
expression on his face and leaves without making any comments. He is known to
utter one word “acha” and walk away leaving the proponents and the presenters
clueless and directionless. There seems to be a consensus amongst Buzdar
watchers that he has no interest in doing anything about the PTI agenda. Either
he can’t comprehend it or is not willing to make the effort. However he is
enjoying every minute of this joy ride when it comes to his personal agenda. I
am sure he realizes that this “Cinderella” episode will end at some point
despite his Bani Gala benefactors; so enjoy the ride while it lasts.
According to my sources some silver lines are emerging. PM Imran Khan is finally accepting the fact that Mr. Buzdar is no Waseem Akram, not even a poor imitation. After his latest meeting with the PM, CM Buzdar may have found some temporary reprieve. However how long will a square peg last in a round hole? I am sure the decisive Kaptaan I know will reboot sooner than later. CM has had more than a fair chance, and PM’s undiluted support and encouragement. Mr. Prime Minister the clock is running against you, the sooner you realize it the better it is for all of us. We are losing goodwill, credibility and patience. Public is questioning PTI cadre where is the “tabdeli” we voted for? Even worse under Buzdars rule PTI’s financial integrity and hygiene is suffering as it is being seriously compromised.
PTI has to deal with a power structure crafted by the wily Sharifs over 3 decades.
They shall raise obstacles and road blocks for even the most competent Chief
Minister. PML (N) rose to power on a foundation laid by stolen railway goods.
They developed into a behemoth ruling Punjab for 30+ years out of 71 years of
our existence, developing unquestioned sway on power, unhindered and
uninterrupted. Taking them on is no easy task and we can’t bury our heads in
sand. I am sure they are rollicking with laughter over this ineffective
leadership, ludicrous by its incompetency. They have not even been challenged
yet! The time to act is now Mr. Khan, it will only go downhill from here.