Here’s Why Usman Buzdar Is A Liability For PTI
In a bid to protect the prime minster from sharing limelight with any of his more politically effective party men, the PTI government is now faced with another problem—a chief minister who is a complete failure, writes Umer Farooq.
In terms of placement within the country’s power structure and in terms of administrative powers, the only executive office, on the civilian side, that can rival the office of Prime Minister Imran Khan is none other than Chief Minister Usman Buzdar. Perhaps that’s the reason why the politician who emerges victorious in the parliamentary elections takes extra caution in selecting the chief minister of the province from among his party men.
In this regard, two models have emerged in the post-Zia period—one is the model of powerful chief ministers like Shahbaz Sharif, when the victorious political leader, in this case Nawaz Sharif, has to choose from within his family, the second model is the “clown model”, when the victorious political leaders at the center have to choose from, outside his close relative and family members, his untested party men.
This model was exercised when Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto picked Arif Nakai and Imran Khan picked Usman Buzdar.
Musharraf period witnessed a third model when the military ruler picked powerful and politically effective, Chaudhry Pervez Ellahi as Chief Minister of Punjab. The fact that Pervez Ellahi derived all his power from military regime didn’t make the then military dictator, General Pervez Musharraf any more insecure. But Pervez Ellahi remained more close to the military top brass and military ruler, General Musharraf than any of the Prime Minister who served under Musharraf during his nine years rule.
Prime Minister Imran Khan faced the same problem when his party emerged victorious both at the national level as well as in the largest province of Punjab—to put in place a powerful and effective chief minister of Punjab who would rival him in power structure as well as in getting the limelight, or to pick a clown from among his party men who would remain under his shadow. Prime Minister Khan picked the clown model for the power arrangement of his government.
Imagine Imran Khan picking Shah Mehmood Qureshi as Punjab CM, as the latter was also aspiring for the job even before the July 2018 parliamentary elections. Qureshi is more adept as a political tactician and more well-connected to the power centers of the country to give Imran Khan restlessness that comes with sharing the limelight with political much smarter party colleague.
The hapless Usman Buzdar poses no such threat to Prime Minister Khan, who with each passing day, is coming under tremendous criticism for his failure to provide an effective governmental leadership in the time of economic and political crisis.
Coming from the most backward areas of relatively much well developed province of Punjab, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar is proving himself to be a laughing stock before the overly snobbish social classes and bureaucracy of Punjab. He has absolutely no experience of governance to his credit and no academic qualification worth the name.
In such a situation, he is faced with the most complicated task that has come to him as a wish of the powers-that-be that Punjab has to remain stable and protected from the currents of extremism and militancy—part of militancy has originated in this province nevertheless—after the military is clearly claiming to have cleared rest of the troubled provinces of these menaces.
Reviving economic activity and agriculture production in the province was beyond the capacity of even the most effective chief ministers at the political level in the past during the last 10 to 15 years. So Usman Buzdar doesn’t stand a chance in this connection.
So in bid to protect the prime minster from sharing limelight with any of his more politically effective party men, the PTI government is now faced with another problem—a chief minister who is a complete failure.
Power for chief minister who is an administrative and political failure, could prove to be like shifting sands—changing the loyalties of member provincial assembly is not a very difficult task in this situation for those who are masters of political machinations in the province. That is why many PMLN leaders have started giving chief ministerial looks now days.
Umer Farooq is an Islamabad-based freelance journalist. He writes on security, foreign policy and domestic political issues.