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Buzdar squandered his chance at political prominence

"Buzdar could not finalize work on the local government framework, which was a big negligence on part of his government"

Since before the general elections of 2018, Sardar Usman Buzdar did not have any idea that one day he would become the Chief Minister of Punjab, the country’s largest province. For the first time, he was elected as a member of provincial assembly (MPA) and for the first time he was chosen for the top slot.

Prior to becoming the chief executive of the province, Sardar Usman Buzdar had served as tehsil nazim in his constituency – PP-286, though his father, Sardar Fateh Muhammad Khan Buzdar, was elected thrice as an MPA. His nomination stunned many in the party and also the public which had never heard of him before him coming to the limelight from Barthi – a small town in Dera Ghazi Khan he belongs to.

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Since the day he assumed charge of the office, he preferred to stay mum even during several critical moments, when there was a huge demand among the public that he should speak up his mind – a fact that badly damaged his personality and image. Buzdar faced many rumors about his early departure but despite all, he continued to rely upon the support of the man who had picked him up for the top office in Punjab.

Buzdar’s inability to be as active as his predecessor, Shehbaz Sharif, became another reason for criticism of him from within the party ranks. His biggest weakness was that he was not known in the political arena and his ties with the party leadership were also not so old that the other party leaders could easily accept him.

He had contested the election in 2013 on the ticket of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz but lost. A few months before the general elections of 2018 he joined the Junoobi Punjab Sooba Mahaz (The Southern Punjab Province Front), which was formed by PML-N “dissidents” led by Makhdum Khusro Bakhtiar, who is now a federal minister. The Mahaz later merged with the PTI after the dissolution of the previous assemblies and the formation of a caretaker setup to conduct the polls.

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The outgoing CM has a master’s degree in political science. The officers and law officers close to him say that he mostly arrived at the office at around 9am every day and held one or two meetings, remained in the office and left at 4pm. An officer, speaking on the condition of anonymity, says Buzdar remained totally detached from the public sector companies and it was the reason that many officers whose terms had expired in 2019 continued to hold offices.

“He had no capacity to hold more than two meetings a day. And the officers like the Secretary to CM or the Secretary Coordination used to look after the affairs,” says the officer, pointing out that his lethargic way of governance caused a “huge loss” and more things would come out soon. The reforms in the police, criminal justice system and the reforms in the civil justice system, he says, were nothing but claims.

Buzdar held the office for three years and a half but was unable to finalize work on the local government framework, which was a big negligence on the part of his government. The audit paras from the Shehbaz government’s time were not taken up by the Public Accounts Committee during the Buzdar government and the issues remained completely ignored.

But, from the beginning to the end, Prime Minister Imran Khan continued to defend Buzdar as the Punjab Chief Minister. Before that, at the time of his nomination for the office of Punjab CM, PM Khan had said on his Twitter account, “I want to make it clear I stand by our nominee Sardar Usman Buzdar for the Punjab CM. I have done my due diligence over the past two weeks and have found him to be an honest man. He has integrity and stands by my vision and ideology of Naya Pakistan.”

On multiple occasions, PM Khan said, “He [Usman Buzdar] will prove to be a Wasim Akram plus.” Recently, on March 8, 2022, while defending Buzdar, Prime Minister Imran Khan had said that he would continue to work as the Punjab Chief Minister. “He [Buzdar] will not be easy to replace as no one else has done as much work as Usman Buzdar did while being the chief executive of Punjab,” said the PM.

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