CM Buzdar – PM Imran’s Achilles’ heel

punjab cm usman buzdar greets pm imran khan at cm house photo express

                                         As the air in the federal capital becomes thicker with speculations about Prime Minister Imran Khan’s ouster, political observers say the premier has found himself in a particularly difficult dynamic: his boon has morphed into a bane.

Usman Buzdar, a political novice conspicuous for his plebeian rootedness, was the prime minister’s first choice for Punjab’s top slot – apparently, to concentrate power in his office through the taciturn, almost passive chief minister ruling the heartland of the political ground.

However, the conveniently crafted ‘sweet spot’ appears to be coming apart at the seams as the drag of pragmatism slows the sprint toward big-picture aspirations. But the prime minister does not seem to mind it, walking into the same wall despite political ramifications.

This, the political analysts conclude, has not only angered prime minister’s some of the rock-ribbed loyalists but also led to the birth of disgruntled factions and internal rivalry demanding a ‘minus Buzdar’ formula. Many, including the power stakeholders, have long asked the prime minister to remove the Punjab CM but he thumbed at their demands.

The discontent, bubbling under the surface since the very nascent days of PM’s ‘Buzdar experiment’, has become volcanic three and a half years into the government as almost everyone, including government’s allies in Center and Punjab, openly ask for province top slot in exchange for party’s support to the government citing Buzdar’s poor leadership in the province.

“Imran Khan’s stubbornness not to replace Usman Buzdar against all advice is reflective of his callous attitude towards governance,” PPP’s Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar remarked.

“It’s a tragedy that a totally inexperienced person was given the responsibility to run the affairs of the province with a population of 120 million,” he added.

‘Was Buzdar worth it?’

The question that the lawmakers and political analysts have been raising is simple: was it worth appointing Buzdar as Punjab CM in the first place and saving him till the end?

PM Imran had made the surprise announcement about Buzdar’s appointment a day before he himself was sworn in. Picking the little known politician from Taunsa Sharif in the most politically important province not only stunned the friends and foes alike but left them in disbelief when PM predicted that Buzdar would prove to be “Wasim Akram Plus”.

Interestingly, in response to the chorus of voices pressing on the embattled premier to remove the chief minister, the former recently announced that the decision about Buzdar’s fate would be taken after the battle of no-confidence motion was settled in the Center. But the apparent move to defuse rebellion may have come a little late as with roughly two dozen disgruntled MNAs finally coming out in the open and MPAs already joining dissenting groups, little is left to the imagination what would happen to the ruling PTI in Center and Punjab.

Commenting on the scenario, PML-N’s Shahid Khaqan Abbasi quipped that “a bigger idiot is protecting a smaller idiot”.

Meanwhile, PML-N Information Secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb preferred to say that “Imran Khan is responsible for what is happening to him” when asked to comment if Buzdar was the reason that was potentially costing PM Khan his government.

Aun Chaudhry, once stated to be a highly close confidante of PM Imran, minced no words when asked to share his thoughts.

“Buzdar has ruined Punjab. Whatever Imran Khan is facing today is because of Usman Buzdar; he has ruined the province to the extent that PTI’s lawmakers openly started expressing dissent and have now stood against the PTI government,” Chaudhry said.

“Appointing an incompetent man in the most important province of the country is cruelty; our conscience did not allow us to go along with Buzdar,” Chaudhry added.

Ruling party’s members never understood why PM Imran backed a man who had lost the 2013 election for a provincial seat on a PML-N ticket after he quit PML-Q. He had later joined the Junoobi Punjab Sooba Mahaz group, which later on merged in PTI before the 2018 elections.

‘A yes-man’

Political analysts conjecture that Buzdar was chosen for the province’s top slot as it was easier for PM Imran to control and keep him in line than the ones who had financed PTI’s campaigns and thought that they would rule the province once PTI was in power.

Agreeing that Buzdar was the first one from South Punjab’s middle-class background to rule the province, who didn’t have electricity at home, they say that other criteria of his selection were that he is a “yes-man” who made it easier for PM Imran to call the shots in Punjab from Islamabad.

From the reshuffling of Punjab’s cabinet to the replacement of chief secretaries, IGs and CCPO, they say, PM Imran could get the job done within hours without being asked to explain the reasons

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