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Thursday 30th June 2022 / 0 Zulkaedah 1443

The question of Buzdar

The main reason why Usman Buzdar is still the chief minister of Punjab is due to the blessings of Prime Minister Imran Khan. The premier picked him over a year ago stating that Buzdar belongs to South Punjab and was well acquainted to understand the plight of the common man.
The last fourteen months have been uncertain for the Buzdar administration. He has been termed as incompetent and not deserving of having the highest seat in the largest province. Despite all these allegations, the prime minister has still preferred to maintain Buzdar over other party candidates.
Once again Buzdar seems to be serious trouble. Reports have surfaced that PTI leadership is dissatisfied with his governance and are calling for his ouster. There haven’t been public statements or disapproval of Buzdar, but the matter was discussed during a party core committee meeting held on the weekend. Many leaders are critical over Buzdar’s handling of affairs in Punjab and failure to effectively run the province.
This has created a divide within the party as groups have emerged on whether Buzdar should be replaced. The PML-Q, a coalition partner in Punjab, has also expressed reluctance to support the government if Buzdar is replaced. The rumours of rift between the two parties was quashed when Buzdar met Punjab Assembly Speaker Pervez Elahi and they agreed to support each other.
Buzdar is often compared with his predecessor, PML-N stalwart Shehbaz Sharif, who was known for a dynamic hands-on approach. Shehbaz also had the support of a compliant bureaucracy and invested in infrastructure projects which would build his legacy. Sharif didn’t put more efforts in bring administrative or police reforms and the status quo continued.
Buzdar unfortunately does not wield the kind of influence as Shehbaz Sharif did. He inherited the status quo still influenced by the PML-N. The government suspended the local bodies system in Punjab and the bureaucracy has been tamed by an aggressive NAB. Buzdar has not been given the same level playing field as his predecessor. Several of his cabinet members want his job while others are struggling to find direction.
It must be remembered that a powerful chief minister in Punjab by a government which also runs the federation is a rarity. There are few exceptions in case of a family member like the Sharifs or a political bargain. No one really believes that Buzdar is calling the shots either. Buzdar’s post seems to be safe as it also means that Imran Khan has secured a full term for himself.
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