Being taken for a ride | Pakistan Today

Being taken for a ride

  • They are being dishonest and they think their electorate is foolish

Punjab has a new chief minister, Mr Usman Buzdar of the PTI.

Although this is Mr Buzdar’s first Provincial Assembly seat, he is not a stranger to politics. Once the Nazim of Dera Ghazi Khan, he was a member of the PML-Q for nine years starting from 2002, after which he joined the PML-N. When he ran for the provincial assembly from that party in 2013 he lost to a PPPP candidate. This year, just before the elections Mr Buzdar joined the Junoobi Punjab Sooba Mahaz. When that party merged with the PTI it brought Mr Buzdar with it, after which he won the provincial assembly seat from Dera Ghazi Khan in these elections. Such are the whims of fate.

The new chief minister’s father Fateh Muhammad Khan Buzdar, meantime, has been thrice elected MPA from Dera Ghazi Khan, in 1985, 2002, 2008.

Our new PM explained his reasons for selecting Mr Usman Buzdar for the job. He said that Mr Buzdar belonged to the most backward area of the Punjab, one without water and electricity. So, the PM explained, Mr Usman Buzdar is well aware of the issues faced by the people of such areas.

“He is the only MPA to not have electricity at his home,” said Mr Imran Khan. “I am confident that he will work brilliantly to bring to fruition our vision, which aims at uplifting the lower sections of society and the backward areas of Pakistan.”

It could also be that he is a genuine choice and turns out to be a good one. Who knows? In which case he has our sincere good wishes

Since his nomination there have been several criticisms of the PM’s choice of Mr Buzdar’s as CM, the most persistent being that Mr Buzdar and his father were accused of the murder of six men in 1998. That case was apparently settled by jirga after a sum of 7.5 million rupees was paid to the heirs of the deceased and the case was closed. Simple.

In politics rumours and accusations abound, and every hit, above or below the belt appears permissible.

There is no way of knowing what the events surrounding any case are and what the truth is. In this particular case, one may not agree with a jirga being allowed to settle such major cases but it is not the fault of those concerned if jirgas have the power to do so in this country. And obviously, if the facility is available they will use it. But an accusation of murder will raise eyebrows.

That Mr Buzdar tends to roll around from party to party like a well-known domestic utensil is unfortunate but that too cannot be held against him since he is hardly alone. The PTI, the youngest of the major political parties in the country, is full of members with that tendency.

With reference to this habit of Mr Buzdar’s, and because we have been led to understand that he is disadvantaged, one could excuse him by saying that people from disadvantaged backgrounds really have little choice. Nobody stops for a person or a car to cross the road here, much less allow a disadvantaged person an advantage in politics.

But this tolerance is unnecessary if you stop to think: can a disadvantaged person pay out 7.5 million rupees for anything?

And the electricity? Mr Buzdar we are told has no electricity in his home.

Which family would live without electricity in the long, sweltering, humid summers of Dera Ghazi Khan if it could help it? A family that can pay out 7.5 million can certainly help it. If there is no electricity in their area then there are such things as generators. Those who can afford them use them.

Still, apparently Mr Buzdar really does not have electricity in his home in Dera Ghazi Khan. But that is just one of his homes. The other house, in which his wife and family live, does have electricity.

There are many people who live an arms-length from filth and poverty and do nothing about it, all the best known political figures of the country included.

If the Buzdar family lives in such a disadvantaged area, one that has no basic facilities, it is clear that Mr Buzdar senior, a three elected MPA, has not managed to achieve much. Will the son be any better? He may be, we don’t know, we hope he is, but living in backward areas is in itself no guarantee of an interest in such matters or an ability to bring about improvement.

It is hard to say for certain why Mr Buzdar has been selected for his current post. It is extremely possible that he is keeping the seat for someone else and will be removed when that someone else is free to hold office. His is most likely to stick around as the nominal ‘done the virtuous thing’ visible face while someone else pulls the actual strings.

It could also be that he is a genuine choice and turns out to be a good one. Who knows? In which case he has our sincere good wishes.

The only thing one can say for sure is that it is time politicians stopped chucking dust in the face of its electorate and concentrated on doing some genuine good, not just on making us think they are doing so.

It is of little interest where, how and in what conditions anyone lives, Mr Buzdar or anyone else. The thing that riles is the obvious attempt on the part of leaders to bamboozle, hoodwink and pull the wool over one’s eyes. They are, in short, being dishonest and they think their electorate is foolish.

Such actions often backfire on the politicians. On the country they always do, wrecking people’s lives.

Rabia Ahmed

The writer is a freelance columnist. Read more by her at

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