PM’s Lahore visit

Governing or fire-fighting?

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It baffles many a mind as to why Prime Minister Imran Khan is sticking to his choice of Sardar Usman Buzdar for his chief minister of the largest province. Popular opinion as well as dismal governance suggest exactly otherwise. While the top leadership of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf agrees that there is an acute crisis of governance in Punjab and they have shuffled and reshuffled the bureaucracy umpteen times, the PM does not see any wisdom in changing the chief minister. Only two days ago, almost the entire top brass in the police and administration were swapped as the pool of bureaucracy they have to choose from remains the same. We know chief secretary of the province is changed thrice since this government took over. It is the fifth police chief that has eaten a humble pie. Every time there was a change we were told the new appointee shall prove to be the best choice for the province. Except that he was not.

 

One laughable reason proffered is that PMLN has nurtured these bureaucrats and the latter have adopted the policy of ‘go slow.’ But analysts say that Pervez Ilahi when he had a chance to rule the province did reasonably well with these same bureaucrats. He rather gave a tough contest to Shehbaz Sharif in the polls asking who was better at governing. One question that the PM parried was the NAB conundrum. Bureaucracy, across the country, particularly in Punjab and at Centre, fears the arbitrary NAB action. There are already a few examples in Fawad Hassan Fawad, Ahad Cheema and Salman Ghani. The first two are serving bureaucrats and are in jail without clear evidence of their being involved in the purported crimes. The latter is a retired bureaucrat with a decent reputation but the anti graft watchdog has chosen to arrest the gentleman. Lack of assurance on this count by the government will not help in the cause of improving bureaucratic efficiency.

 

Going back to the puzzle of why Buzdar remains the first choice for the PM. There are as many contestants as the number of MPAs in the assembly, half a dozen of whom are serious contenders and have been doing their best to run a parallel government. Whatever the decision, the province shall cost the PTI eventually in the next elections. As of now, the province that was the bastion of PMLN remains perilously poised in favour of PMLN. With the proverbial winds changing course, their stocks have gone further up.

 

While the PM was in Lahore, he rightly addressed the smog issue that the citizens of that region are facing. He announced some measures that will address the smog problem in a span of three years. Steel furnaces, brick kilns shall be asked to adopt new technologies to reduce the carbon emissions, public transport shall be converted to either electric or CNG fuel, famers shall be provided with machinery to uproot crop stubble and make it usable rather than burning it, and more trees over 60, 000 kanals of land. It is hoped that the provincial government shall furnish enough resources to follow through on their promise and people are relieved of this constant trouble in the winter months.