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August 22, 2018

Lucky Usman Buzdar gets prize job after 100 days in PTI


August 22, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Sardar Usman Buzdar has turned out to be an exceptionally lucky man as he has been nominated as the chief minister of Punjab by Prime Minister Imran Khan exactly 100 days after joining the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

Buzdar’s ascendancy is phenomenal, unheard of, in any political party - the new entrant has been pushed to the top in such a short span of time. By appointing a raw hand as the Punjab top that has no record of holding such office or even a cabinet slot, Imran Khan is doing a new experience.

The most powerful slot among the provincial positions has technically gone to the Junoobi Punjab Suba Mahaz (JPSM), which was merged in the PTI on May 8. Buzdar had joined this group of south Punjab lawmakers, who had left the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). The JPSM had been founded to work for creation of an independent province in south Punjab and to contest the July 25 general elections as a separate entity only a month before its amalgamation in the PTI.

Before associating himself with the JPSM, Buzdar was affiliated with the PML-N. In 2013, he had fought the general elections on the PML-N ticket from Taunsa and lost. He got the first electoral victory in the 2018 parliamentary polls under the PTI umbrella. His father had been elected to the Punjab Assembly thrice.

Even while in the PTI, Buzdar was never known to be active even slightly in Imran Khan’s campaign trail or other party activities. He was never noticed anywhere in the PTI affairs and held no party office.

Buzdar has proved to be the real dark horse as he never appeared on the public radar screen when several names were been discussed for as the PTI’s Punjab chief executive. In their entire political career, neither Buzdar nor his father was ever registered as key figures in the political arena or the PML-N or PML-Q, qualifying for provincial cabinet.

A predominant majority of people are unable to comprehend the precise convincing reasons behind Imran Khan’s pick for the politically most important province.

Buzdar is a new untraditional face. With his nomination, the south Punjab has been given by the PTI a huge representation. Will his selection affect the promise that Imran Khan made to the JPSM at the time of its merger into the PTI to take tangible steps to make south Punjab a new province during his first 100 days?

The old guard of the PTI stood ignored regardless of the reasons prevailing upon the prime minister to prefer Buzdar. Leading contenders, whose names were often cited in different discussions, met the same fate.

Meanwhile, a few political commentators ask, though without any evidence, will a new man come in after the October 14 by-elections? This question may be answered to some extent when nomination papers will be filed to fill up the vacant seats in the by-polls.

During his brief presser, he was asked what the problem number one of Punjab is, but before he could answer, at least three persons started speaking.

Although Buzdar will be the chief executive, legally enjoying all powers attached with the office, he will be required to perform in the presence of assertive heavyweights like Punjab Assembly Speaker Ch Pervez Elahi, Governor Ch Muhammad Sarwar, and other leading figures, inducted in the provincial cabinet, who have been with the PTI and have closely worked with Imran Khan since long. All of them know Imran Khan’s agenda and vision very well.

Imran Khan will also be looking after Punjab which is politically very important and on which he massively focused over the last five years. Since the general elections, Imran Khan kept close to his chest the name of his next Punjab chief minister. But he did say in the party meetings that the new man will be young, educated, unblemished and forward looking.

Buzdar’s choice shows that he meets the qualifications listed by his leader. What was satisfying for Buzdar was that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) quickly announced that the complaint received against him in 2016 had been disposed of after no evidence to prove the allegations against him was found. His political rival Saddam Buzdar had accused Usman Buzdar of 300 bogus recruitments during his tenure as Tehsil Nazim.

However, what was disconcerting for him was the emergence of a report saying that he and his father had got themselves disentangled from the murder of six people by paying “diyat” (blood money) in 1998. His withdrawal from the contest may not be possible as the time for filing nomination papers has expired.

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