During his current tour of the United Kingdom, Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar has been apologetic about the performance of his own party. He has blamed the ‘Dilapidated System’ (Bosaida Nizam) for lack of relief to the people. Sarwar Sahib has been two times Governor (31st -2013 to 2015 and 33rd- 2018 to date) of the largest province of the country. He was discovered by the Sharif Brothers during their stay in the United Kingdom. For him, it has been a bumpy ride with nothing to write home about.
The situation can best be described as: “Bosaida Nizam aur Abdeeda Khalari” (Dilapidated System and Crying Players). Tears can get us nowhere. My late mother was very fond of the Urdu verse which mentioned the need to fight back the tears with resolve Counter Deeda-e-Tar with Jigar. As a tribute to her memory, I had this verse inscribed on her tombstone. On every visit to her grave, I read the verse and gain courage to fight on with: ‘o Tears but Resolve’. Teary eyes can only invoke sympathy, not respect. One has to struggle to produce results and make a difference.
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Different shades of Governer’s house
As a lifelong political activist, I have seen all shades of the Governor’s House. The colonial mansion even has a ‘Darbar Hall’ in the tradition of the ‘Mughal Darbars’ where Emperors sat in judgment to provide relief to the public. ‘Adal-e-Jehangiri’ has been revered as a prime example of ‘Administrative Accountability’ where Executive Abuses were corrected. Abdur Rab Nishtar as Governor freely mixed with the people. Despite residing in the relic of the Raj, he led a simple, honest life. Kept a log of his personal telephone calls and paid for it from his own pocket. He was assassinated while still in office. Akhtar Husain was the Governor when the infamous and draconian ‘Indus Water Treaty was being finalized.
A World Bank presentation was arranged for the Irrigation Engineers to get their buy-in. As professionals, they dissented the proposal of surrendering three rivers (Ravi, Sutlej, Beas) to India in violation of International Law. The dictator lost his temper and ordered the Governor to control his men. They were taken to the side room and dressed down. We need Dollars, either nod or leave were the instructions, the message was delivered loud and clear. Most of them left to pursue other careers, some became consultants to continue their professional journey. As Governor, Amir Mohammad Khan of Kalabagh was a tyrant and terror. Our student demonstrations against dictatorship were brutalized by him. Ghulam Mustafa Khar was a people’s Governor who kept his doors open to the public.
As student leaders, we had free access to the mansion during this Awami Period. The Darbar Hall. was alive and active. He exercised his authority to provide relief to the public. As Chancellor, he summoned the Vice Chancellors to address students’ grievances. Department heads could not hide behind files. When the Police decided to go on strike in Punjab and KPK (NWFP), the two young governors served them an ultimatum to return within 48 hours or face dismissal.
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Their illegal protest fizzled out within hours
Dr. Muhammad Ajmal the prominent educationist was appointed Vice-Chancellor of Punjab University while Dr. Islam Sheikh headed the University of Engineering and Technology (UET) both outstanding academic leaders. It was an era of ‘People’s Power’. After the enactment of the 1973 constitution, Khar Sahib became the Chief Minister (CM). Fearing his popularity he was removed. Comrade Hanif Ramay took over as CM. Ramay Sahib was a scholar and a gentleman who ran the province well.
Nawab Sadiq Hussain Qureshi as Governor had a different approach. He kept away from public contact. Since then it has been downhill for the people of Punjab. The Governor’s who followed used the ‘Princely Residence’ as a picnic spot, enjoying its sprawling lawns and boat rides. Despite being a ceremonial post the Governor can still make a difference. As Chancellor of over 30 universities, he can play a role in selecting able people to lead and shape the character of our coming generations. A few years back, I met the Secretary of Higher Education. She invited me to apply for the position of VC at GCU.
On inquiry, I found out that while the candidates required a terminal degree, the ‘Selection Committee’ had no Ph.D. on the panel. On this, I lodged a formal protest to the Secretary, the Governor and the Chief Minister but to no avail. No one had the resolve to reconstitute the committee as it was headed by a very powerful business leader of the city. The Ombudsman’s Office in the province also reports to the Governor. In this position, the entire administrative machinery can be directed from this office as the public can file an appeal with the Governor if the Ombudsman fails to provide relief. His orders have then to be carried out.
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Governor Sahib also complained about being sidetracked
After the fateful cornering of Benazir Bhutto as PM by Nawaz Sharif the then CM, the position has gained a lot of importance. The PM can be rendered powerless by the CM Punjab. The party leadership from Multan first conspired to keep out the undisputed leader of the province Comrade Ahsan Rashid the founding member and builder of PTI. After his demise, the battle started amongst the conspirators. While Shah Mahmood Qureshi (SMQ) managed to win his National Assembly (NA) seat he was made to lose the Provincial slot thereby blocking his chances to become the CM. Sarwar Sahib was first elected as Senator and then made the Governor. With the disqualification of Jehangir Khan Tarin (JKT) the Secretary-General of the party, hopes were rekindled but Usman Buzdar managed to get the slot. It was perhaps a repeat of the Ghulam Haider Wyne era when some else was in the driver’s seat.
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Yes, the system is dilapidated but the players are equally ineffective. Tears and tails of sorrow will get us nowhere. Iqbal also called for ‘Jigar Ka Lahoo’ (Blood from the Jigar) to lead and make a difference. Even Governor Sarwar Sahib can be effective in the areas directly under his control. In our days University Campuses were taken very seriously as the future of the nation was at stake. Merit-based appointments of VCs can make a real difference in the life of the nation. Today with the collapse of the Civilian Institutions there is an opportunity to provide relief through the Ombudsman who comes directly under the Governor in the province and the President at the center.
To move up the ladder one has to deliver for merit to prevail. The era of conspiracies and complaints is over. Common good seems to be on no one’s agenda, the people are looking for real relief, not rhetoric. With resolve, struggle and follow-up action, the ‘Basaida Nizam ‘ can be pushed to squeeze some relief for the suffering masses. Keep the files moving Governor Sahib, that is the best approach to get the job done.
The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation. He can be reached at email@example.com. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.