Let us assume that the deadlock, which the Punjab power corridors had been facing for weeks, is finally over. Hamza Shehbaz is the new ruler of Punjab. On the other hand, Usman Buzdar has been declared the valid chief minister by the governor, who has said that he rejected the resignation of Buzdar.
Since the Punjab chief secretary has notified Hamza Shehbaz as the chief minister, we should consider him the legitimate resident of the Punjab Chief Minister House. This is the first time in Pakistan’s history that the father is the premier of the state and the son is chief minister of the biggest province (by population).
At the outset of the crisis with the tabling of a no-confidence motion against then prime minister Imran, and a similar move brewing in Lahore, I had endorsed Shehbaz Sharif as the prime minister and Chaudhry Parvez Elahi as the Punjab chief minister. The reason for not picking Hamza was obvious: it does not look nice to have the son of the prime minister as the chief minister. Political fortune, however, blinds journalistic judgements and reasons. Hamza Shehbaz fought for his right to be recognised as the chief minister in courts, and finally on Saturday, National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf administered the oath to him, on the court orders, at a ceremony held at the Governor House. The oath ceremony was clouded by the reports that Governor Omar Sarfraz Cheema rejected Usman Buzdar’s resignation, deeming it “not constitutionally valid”.
It is time for Hamza Shehbaz to assume the mantle of the chief ministership with renewed energies. He has been familiar to power games and the powerful bureaucracy. The only thing he needs to break is the tradition of the PML-N’s Lahore-oriented development. The PML-N must own the whole province and initiate the projects which benefit the whole province, and not the population of big cities. The entire rule of the PML-N, spanning from 1997 till date cannot mention a single project like the Benazir Income Support Programme of the PPP and Sehat Card of the PTI.
Videos depicting very disturbing scenes of heckling of two ministers of the incumbent unity government on the premises of the Grand Mosque of Madina are doing the rounds online. Ministers Marriyum Aurangzeb and Shahzain Bugti are seen pestered by a mob, and all mobsters are armed with mobile phones; chants of ‘chor, chor (thief, thief)’ can be heard. At one point, an unruly person can be seen pulling the hair of Shahzain Bugti.
Well, the persons of power are always open to public scrutiny in the established democracies, and public often name and shame the ‘corrupt people’ at public places. Some places, however, are considered ‘no-protest’ places at all, and the places of worship are one of them.
A place of worship is a place where people go to get connected to God. Let the public give politicians some privacy in a mosque or church, so that they may talk to God in solitude and peace. Similarly, the occasions of funerals and weddings should be immune to public booing.
The Saudi government has initiated action against the people breaching the sanctity of the mosque. On this occasion, the Pakistan government should have sought leniency from the Kingdom against the unruly people. At the end of the day, they are Pakistanis. If they are jailed, or flogged in Saudi prisons, the end-sufferers will be their families.