Time to review some decisions?
Since winning in Punjab, albeit with a thin margin, the PTI has been unable to gain sufficient momentum in the most populous province of the country. For starters it was a tough victory to seal as senior members of the party ran around the length and breadth of Punjab to gather enough MPAs to form a government. Then came the controversial choice for the Chief Ministership, possibly the most coveted role in the country after the Prime Ministership; Usman Buzdar, a relatively unknown personality in Punjab’s complex political scene. It is no surprise therefore that in the presence of PTI heavy hitters Buzdar is perceived by most as powerless, lacking control over or understanding of how things work and simply being directed in various directions by those wielding the real power who are more focused on individual political gains. As a result it is the people who are suffering the most. The World Bank has downgraded a $100 million project aimed at reducing poverty and joblessness as the Punjab cabinet has been unable to develop or implement a spatial strategy– a crucial requirement to ensure timely release of funds.
The PTI perpetually fell short of utilising the approved budget in KP where it had the reins for a complete five-year term. This is amply evidenced by the still incomplete BRT project in Peshawar that has overshot multiple deadlines since 2017. The same problem is now visible in Punjab where less than 50 percent of the allocated budget has been utilised as the financial year nears closing. Prime Minister Imran Khan continues to defend his choice as CM, stating that by belonging to one of the most underdeveloped regions in Punjab, Buzdar had a unique understanding of the problems of the poorest. Relating to a problem does not necessarily ensure competence to solve it. Given the circumstances Buzdar will have to learn the ropes in record time to effectively execute the demanding role of Punjab CM.