So much for the story that came with Ch Sarwar. Clearly he really believed he could leverage the governor’s office to brush up democracy in the province, and the ruling party. But few people, if any, shared his optimism. And it didn’t even take a year for him to understand Punjab’s corrupt government machinery, and the Sharifs’ obsession with centralised decision-making – to the point of taking exception to unwarranted ‘bright ideas’. He’d decided about the resignation around the dharna, but timed it prudently to avoid embarrassing the leadership unnecessarily. Perhaps this gentlemanly pragmatism was one of those attributes that he picked up brushing shoulders with better democrats in London; and remains in short supply here.
His lament, that Punjab’s land mafia was more powerful than the governor’s office, spoke volumes. It provided yet another peep into the way the Sharifs’ backyard is being run. No wonder the governor’s tipping point came around the Gullu Butt incident, which typified the elite’s attitude. And his leaving is of more than just symbolic value. It comes when PML-N is sleepwalking from one blunder to another, unable to offer any semblance of governance or order. For the leadership, this is another red card.
There is, of course, another very important angle. Sarwar was bold enough to admit failure, especially regarding addressing grievances of a very significant community – expats. Not many of them – whose billions in remittances do a better job of sustaining the economy than any measure on part of the government – eye the government favourably. And now fewer still will be willing to give up greener pastures for the motherland, like Sarwar naively did. He has achieved much; first Muslim and Pakistani-origin British MP and self-made all the way from humble beginnings near Faisalabad to wealth and success in the UK. But he overextended in trying to apply the Britain’s urbane democratic model at home, and encouraging constructive criticism among those in power. Hopefully he can continue with his ideals in a different capacity, especially since he has vowed to live and die in Pakistan, unlike other outsiders who have graced our political spectrum now and then.