News Analysis |
The Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf won the elections on the promise to bring real change to the country, ensure accountability and transparency in governance and fight corruption. Many expected the party to finally do away with the status quo. Thus, when the Prime Minister appointed Usman Buzdar as the chief minister of the country’s largest province, there were high expectations.
However, CM Punjab has been under heavy criticism ever since taking office. Initially, critics pointed out that he is not a good orator or public speaker. Videos emerged on social media where the Chief Minister was surrounded by media persons and apparently getting heckled by them.
Buzdar was nominated for the top slot in Punjab by Prime Minister Imran Khan because he belongs to a humble background.
Soon afterward, some channels began reporting that the new CM might have been involved in a murder case where he got free along with several others after paying blood money. That turned out to be a smear campaign based on a distortion of facts, although the CM’s critics maintain he is not entirely innocent.
Similarly, when the Chief Minister arrived at the shrine of a saint in Punjab along with his entourage and ‘protocol’, many citizens complained of their visit there was disturbed. The PM had promised not to take unnecessary protocol vehicles during his travels whilst the government was attempting to spear-head an austerity drive.
CM Punjab, however, has made appearances in public with several ‘protocol’ vehicles and was heavily criticized by the opposition and the media for it. But the most serious issue so far that Usman Bazdar has faced is alleged political interference in the transfer of DPO Pakpattan, a case which the Chief Justice of Pakistan has taken Suo moto notice of.
Buzdar was nominated for the top slot in Punjab by Prime Minister Imran Khan because he belongs to a humble background. The PM said in a speech that Usman Bazdar didn’t even have electricity at home and that someone from the common people would understand problems people are facing at the grassroots level.
Imran Khan in an address to the civil servants of Pakistan promised to end political interference in their service.
Sardar Usman Buzdar won the provincial seat form PP-286. He belongs to Taunsa Shareef and his father is the head of the Bazdar tribe. The Prime Minister in a recent address again defended Usman Bazdar as the best choice for Punjab.
According to a report by the chief of the National Counter Terrorism Authority, Maher Khalid Dad Lak, orders for the transfer of the then District Police Officer Pakpattan, Rizwan Gondal, came from the Chief Minister’s office. Khawar Maneka, the ex-husband of the Prime Minister’s wife and a retired grade 21 officer from the Pakistan Customs Service, was stopped at a police check post.
He chose to race ahead instead and was chased by ex-DPO after which he was stopped and harsh words were exchanged between the two. Then, the order for the transfer came. The report relied on phone intercepts and interviews from police officials and was presented to a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar who ordered that the report is sent to CM Punjab, along with Ahmad Jameel Gujjar and Sindh Inspector General Kaleem Imam.
Gujjar is a ‘family friend’ of Khawar Farid Maneka who was present at the CM house when the decision for transfer of the police officer seems to have been taken. Sardar Usman Bazdar, however, rejects the report by NACTA, arguing that his version of the story has not been accounted for.
At first, the whispers hinted of Jehangir Tareen being reinstated through the supreme court and then taking over the reins of Punjab after relection.
Although the Prime Minister has defended Buzdar as the best choice for Chief Minister Punjab, he seems to have distanced himself from the whole saga of the transfer of ex-DPO Rizwan Gondal and has not commented publicly. Imran Khan in an address to the civil servants of Pakistan promised to end political interference in their service.
This type of interference, where elected representatives hamper the performance of civil servants in order to extend patronage to their support base, is widely recognized by senior bureaucrats and various committee reports on civil service reform as one of the main causes of nepotism and corruption in governance.
On the other hand, Ahmad Jameel Gujjar has submitted an unconditional apology to the police officer who was transferred. The Supreme Court has demanded that the CM Punjab also issue an apology after rejecting their responses to the NACTA report. The CJP has stressed that there is a need to de-politicize the civil service for the efficient delivery of public goods.
The government is still in its infancy. More time is needed to realize substantive and overhaul the patron-client based system that has plagued governance in the country for decades. One possible interpretation of the PM’s support for Usman Buzdar is to end all rumors surrounding the CM’s time in power.
The rumor mill has been in full grind about the impending removal of CM Buzdar. At first, the whispers hinted of Jehangir Tareen being reinstated through the supreme court and then taking over the reins of Punjab after relection. However, as that ended with Tareen remaining unqualified, rumors pointed to other candidates. However, Khan’s statements seem to be a warning to all consoiring elements that it will not be so.