Usman Buzdar, once the chief minister, and now the interim chief minister of Punjab, is the talk of the town these days as everyone is anticipating who will replace him. Either it will be Pervez Elahi or Hamza Shahbaz. But in both cases, Mr Buzdar is bound to leave.
Often referred to as “Wasim Akram Plus” by Prime Minister Imran Khan, Buzdar has a Masters in Political Science from the Bahauddin Zakariya University. He was always highlighted as an incompetent and inexperienced person despite serving as tehsil nazim of Taunsa Sharif from 2001 to 2008.
Buzdar has always been an obsession for the opposition. Prime Minister Imran Khan made a lot of blunders while appointing ministers, but the kind of backlash that he received for appointing Usman Buzdar was massive. Media, opposition, allies, and even some members of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf itself had problems with Buzdar.
Recently, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid requested Imran Khan to remove him as chief minister to appoint Pervez Elahi in exchange for their support for a no-confidence motion. This is quite ironic because Buzdar started his political career with PML-Q and today it led to his removal. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leaders lambasted Buzdar various times, and it is worth mentioning that Buzdar ran for election in 2013 on a PML-N ticket as well (but lost). The other major group that had problems with him was the Tareen group of PTI who said that they do not want him as the CM.
Despite all backlash, Prime Minister Imran Khan never showed any distrust and continued to laud him for his performance, including Sehat Card, new hospitals, tourism projects, roads, etc. Imran Khan used to claim that the projects of Buzdar have never been marketed properly. And it makes sense because Buzdar avoids the limelight. Unlike other ministers of Imran — who like to give their opinions on almost everything — CM Buzdar used to remain silent.
Sometimes it remained unclear who the real information minister was, as all of them liked to be the spokesperson for the party, but Buzdar rarely talked. If he got on a public podium, it was always to the point as he just mentioned his achievement in his native language and quickly left. He never bothered to bash opposition or liked to waste the time of the audience with some kind of repetitive tails.
The prominent reason he failed to become a major figure in domestic politics is indeed his polite and decent discourse. If he was ridiculing and taunting opposition like other members of PTI, he would be famous, but he did not which is graceful of him.
His biggest contribution to the party is that he minded his own business and did not make politics hectic for Prime Minister Imran khan. Ministers like Sheikh Rashid, and Fawad Chudhry continuously gave statements that leave no room for flexibility. “Imran Khan will not resign at any cost; he will not let his nation down by giving margin to these thugs, these disgruntled ministers will cry,” they used to say.
They created an environment where any kind of flexibility by Imran Khan was akin to a U-turn. They made it impossible for Imran Khan to resign (even if he wanted to). Luckily, CM Buzdar never dictated to Imran Khan what he should do and never gave him any juvenile suggestions. He never made it hard for him. In fact, he helped him in the time, when Khan needed him the most. Imran Khan repeatedly declined the offer of PML-Q as he was very hesitant to remove him, but CM Buzdar made it easy for him and stepped down himself.
Now that CM Buzdar is leaving, a major change that we will witness in the CM house is the environment. Usman Buzdar was a humble man, and colleagues felt comfortable working around him. He was approachable. People could go to him and meet him without going through hectic procedures. And he would listen to their problems. However, if Pervez Elahi or Hamza Shehbaz become chief minister, that environment will not be the same. It might not be easy to approach them as it was for Buzdar. CM Buzdar was more focused to be in his office and work. But the new candidates for CM are likely to be active in politics rather than the office.