The cavalier attitude of PTI chief Imran Khan towards the Punjab, shown in his announcement that he wants its Assembly dissolved, ignores the fact that its provincial government is mandated to perform such vital governance functions as controlling law and order, and providing the citizenry health and education. The state of governance under Imran’s so-called ‘Wasim Akram-Plus’, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, was nothing to write home about, for the rumors of corruption which swirled about him and Farah ‘Gogi’ combined with poor governance. The problem thus existed before the vote of no-confidence that ousted Mr Khan from the Premiership. However, after the resignation of Mr Buzdar, government, already pretty invisible, entirely disappeared, after first Hamza Shehbaz and then Ch Pervez Elahi, took the office in a series of titanic struggles where the courts had to be invoked at every step.
Matters have only been made worse by the fact that local councils stand dissolved, with elections due to be held. At a time when the provincial government does not manage to perform its basic functions, it also has the responsibility of ensuring that municipal functions are carried on. The game of musical chairs being played by the chief minister is reflected by the impermanence of the chief secretaries and IGPs, even though that was something that the Buzdar government suffered from. On top of that, Mr Khan has started the hare of dissolution, something not likely to sit well with Ch Pervez, who took office at a very high cost, both personal and political. Though he has made reassuring noises in public, he will be very reluctant to advise the dissolution. He can be stopped from dissolving if a motion of no-confidence is moved against him, something the opposition is expected to do even it has no hope of success.
Mr Khan should not be surprised if he finds his partymen unenthusiastic about either resigning or having their House dissolved. Ch Pervez Elahi must also make sure that he provides the province the kind of governance it needs, because at the moment, the province’s bureaucrats has gone into a wait-and-see mode with vengeance, and are sitting on files because they do not want to take decisions, as they do not know which political master they have to please. Even a smart administrator like Ch Pervez, has found himself hamstrung by the present situation, and has found himself unable to deliver the sort of governance he would like to.