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EDITORIAL: If Punjab was a problem when the then chief minister, Usman Buzdar, was running it, it’s been downright paralysed since his resignation; which was also made controversial by PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) itself to get ahead in the point scoring that has typified Punjab’s politics since then.

The trouble began when the then prime minister ditched Buzdar for Pervez Elahi in a last-ditch attempt to deflect the no-confidence motion. But when that didn’t work, and Imran was forced out of the PM’s house, PTI locked horns with PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz) in Punjab to secure the coveted province ahead of the next general election in no-holds-barred contest that has been degenerating by the day.

It’s no surprise, then, that the musical chairs for the chief minister’s slot had to be settled in court, just when the honourable lordships were also being constantly burdened with deciphering the constitution – when it comes to how far one can bend the rules and get away with it more than anything else.

First PTI didn’t want to play ball, because PML-N managed to wriggle its way to the top of the province. And now PML-N does not want to play because the court handed their opponents the final victory. And since early April, when the former PM was sent packing, the most important province in the federation has effectively been rudderless.

One would have thought that Pervez Elahi’s confirmation as CM would be the end of it, but the Punjab assembly is still without an opposition leader with Hamza Shahbaz in London; most likely conferring with party leader Nawaz Sharif about the strategy going forward. And you can be sure that nobody in these feudally run parties ever dares to make a dash for any top slot even if dynasts are too busy to give much thought to such things. So the house is only partially functioning in the proper constitutional sense.

But that doesn’t mean that Chief Minister Pervez Elahi is also sitting idle. Never one to miss an opportunity for a proper tit-for-tat, he made sure to roll up his sleeves as soon as he took charge and suspend dozens of police officers that followed the previous administration’s orders and made things difficult for PTI when it tried to march on the capital in late May.

He could have followed procedure and done it the proper way, of course, but he chose to make a spectacle of it and therefore made sure the headlines wouldn’t miss the political optics behind the move. It’s obviously raised a number of eyebrows, especially with people who are familiar with the bureaucracy’s reflex action of retreating into its shell and doing nothing at all, effectively inducing paralysis in the business of running the state, whenever politicians want to use it for their own revenge.

So the circus continues and Punjab remains non-functional. Even now the latest news coming out of the province is about threats of arresting PML-N loyalists, who in turn fire their volleys from the centre. There couldn’t really be a clearer, more shameful display of the political elite putting their own egos and interests ahead of their most sacred duties and, above all, the welfare of the state and the people. Yet they expect people to buy their excuses and line up to vote them into power when the time comes.

Nobody needs any reminding that this sort of schoolboy politics might give a few politicians a nice ego boost, but it does nothing good for the people. And since this madness has gone on far too long, the sooner it ends, the better for everybody, especially all the politicians that want the people to believe everything they say like the gospel truth.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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Mushtaque Ahmed Aug 21, 2022 09:32pm
"Never believe what the SAY! Always watch out for what they DO!"
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