LAHORE: A federal minister has claimed that the chief minister of Punjab is in hot waters, saying he was issued a warning to bolster performance and that even Prime Minister Imran Khan's peon would say Sardar Usman Buzdar is the wrong choice.
According to the federal minister, who is believed to be close to PM Imran Khan and spoke on the condition of anonymity, Buzdar has been warned of consequences if his government's performance in Punjab didn't improve.
The cabinet minister's comments were revealed in a Wednesday report published in the Daily Jang, which cited the source as saying the issue was Buzdar's 'lack of abilities.'
Buzdar, who has been given a few months to improve his performance, has in recent weeks been very active in making political statements and holding press briefings about the "performance" of his government.
Everyone in the PTI regime and the ruling party itself — except PM Imran Khan — feels that the CM has been given a responsibility that is "beyond his capacity", the minister said.
"Even if you ask the prime minister's peon, he will tell you that Buzdar is the wrong choice," he added.
The insider said Buzdar was facing a tough time in each of his meetings with PM Imran Khan because the premier is his only supporter.
In addition, the top leadership of the former ruling party, the PML-N, has also prevented its political workers from criticising the Punjab CM, the sources said, adding that they knew that as long as Buzdar ruled the province, the party would continue benefiting and the PTI suffering.
The 'establishment', too, was unhappy with PM Imran Khan's choice, the source claimed. In the past, "these people" had directly informed the premier of their dissatisfaction but the latter was worried as to who could be trusted in Buzdar's place if the chief minister was removed.
The source claimed that PM Imran Khan did not wish to bring Aleem Khan or Mian Muhammad Aslam Iqbal to the post of Punjab's chief minister but even though many PTI leaders did not like Buzdar, they acknowledged the premier's view that there was a shortage of choice of lawmakers on the matter.
In response to a question as to whether the reports were true this time around since PM Imran Khan has in the past publicly come out in support of Buzdar, the minister said the deadline as per the final warning given to the CM is the budget announcement for the fiscal year 2021-2022 (FY21-22).
Ever since the "warning", Buzdar has become active insofar the media is concerned, the source added. Last week, he had held a press conference wherein he announced that his government recovered 15,000 acres of state land worth Rs450 billion.
It was the largest operation in Punjab's history and the operation was brought to a logical conclusion, he had said. Similar indiscriminate action was being taken against sugar and inflation mafia, he had added, stressing his government's efforts to preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Over the recent past, the government of Sardar Usman Buzdar has faced criticism over poor performance and frequent transfers of civil servants — including at the Secretariat and field staff — whereas political interference in the Punjab bureaucracy's affairs has been unprecedented so much so that it has become a routine now.
It is believed that matters were not under the control of the Punjab chief minister anymore.
A recent notification of resignation from the South Punjab Secretariat was seen as a defeat for the Buzdar government. He later cancelled it but did not give any reason as to how it was issued.
The PTI's leaders from South Punjab — including Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi — were reportedly angry at such mishandling of administrative matters in the area.
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