Botching it in Punjab | Pakistan Today

Botching it in Punjab

  • Has PTI no competent leader to manage the province?

On Friday, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar accepted the resignation of his spokesperson Shehbaz Gill. Several explanations were subsequently hazarded for the official being given short shrift. These included being too big for his boots, transgressing his boundaries and promoting himself instead of his boss. Only a day before his unceremonious departure, an overconfident Gill had told those PTI members who were not happy with the CM to better leave the party.

With multiple power centres operating within the Punjab PTI, it is not an easy job to last long as a spokesperson, a minister or a bureaucrat. Within a year of the PTI’s coming to power, the province has had four IGs and two chief secretaries, while there have been massive transfers of bureaucrats.

The government needs to placate its MPAs to avoid any rebellion. With the development budget drastically slashed and more redundancies than fresh jobs in government departments, the MPAs have little funds at their disposal and no quotas of jobs to accommodate cronies. It was decided therefore to compensate the PTI MPAs by allowing them to have bureaucrats of their choice in their constituencies. This explains the mass transfers of officers from DCs to administrative secretaries within a year. Bureaucrats have been told to keep the MPAs happy or else be prepared to become rolling stones or OSDs.

An unrefined information minister was removed on account of unseemly remarks about minorities, but his successor was replaced for being too mild vis-à-vis the opposition. A third information minister holds the portfolio now, under probation. More changes in the provincial cabinet are expected in the next few days after the CM, currently in Saudi Arabia, returns from Umrah. Mr Buzdar believed that provincial ministers had been given enough time to put up performance and the ones who had failed to deliver would have to go.

Early last week rumours were rife about the removal of the Punjab CM. Ruling Punjab in sufferance as the lowest common denominator, Chief Minister Buzdar may continue despite his incurable weaknesses while the province suffers from bad governance. Thanks to Prime Minister Imran Khan as his patron, Mr Buzdar can go on experimenting with transfers.