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August 30, 2018

Punjab CM sparks controversies in his first week in office


August 30, 2018

ISLAMABAD: While Prime Minister Imran Khan has received great accolades for his maiden speech focusing on reforms and austerity, the recent contradictory actions of his nominated Chief Minister of Punjab, Usman Buzdar, has made the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) a punching bag for critics in the social and mainstream media.

The surprise selection of the relatively unknown Buzdar from a deprived region of southern Punjab had raised many eyebrows in the PTI, but Khan insisted that his nominee was an honest man of “integrity and stands by his vision and ideology of Naya Pakistan”.

However, a week after his oath-taking, Usman has become embroiled in controversy for actions which appeared to contradict the spirit of Naya Pakistan.

Official residence and family joyride Unlike Imran Khan, who did not move into the Prime Minister House and instead opted for the much more modest military secretary’s residence inside the complex, Buzdar chose to utilise the sprawling official Chief Minister's residence at 7-Club Road, Lahore. The five-bedroom residence was also used by the previous chief minister, Shahbaz Sharif.

Criticism of Buzdar was also provoked by the posting of images on the social media which showed his family enjoying the use of a Punjab government plane. The subsequent trend generated criticism from journalists, political activists and even some PTI supporters.

In a TV appearance, however, Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry defended the Chief Minister: “What is wrong if the Chief Minister brings his family on his plane? Do you think he should come to Islamabad without his family?”  Death of a minor owing to VIP Visit

On Tuesday, another controversy erupted when the Chief Minister used an official helicopter to visit a friend in Mian Channu to express condolences. The Chief Minister went on to inspect the tehsil headquarters hospital in Mian Channu, but the death of a minor at the hospital during his visit sparked criticism.

According to local journalists, a two-year-old girl Komal died because she was not admitted to the emergency ward, which was closed at the time because of the Chief Minister’s visit to the hospital. Relatives of the girl, including her mother, started protesting against the Chief Minister after her death. According to doctors, the girl was a Thalassemia patient who required a blood transfusion. According to eyewitnesses, most of the doctors at the hospital were preoccupied with entertaining the Chief Minister instead of treating their patients.

Such unfortunate incidents have often happened in the past and the PTI has always been critical when VIP protocol has caused them. The PTI Chairman condemned the protocol accorded to Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto when it caused the death of a child in 2015. “Unforgivable that a child dies because Bilawal VIP Protocol prevented her father from getting her to hospital in time. Condemnable VIP Culture,” Khan tweeted on December 23, 2015 after the death of 10-month-old infant Bisma during a road blockade at the Civil Hospital Karachi, where Bilawal was visiting to inaugurate a trauma centre.  Protocol and closure of shops

After the Mian Channu visit, the Chief Minister used the official helicopter to visit the shrine of Baba Farid at Pakpattan. After reaching the city, the Chief Minister traveled to the shrine by road with a caravan of 18 protocol and security cars, again drawing heavy criticismin the social and mainstream media.

Shops were forcibly closed by the police and devotees were prevented from entering the shrine during Chief Minister’s presence. Some of them started chanting slogans against the government and the Chief Minister for causing them inconvenience.

Social media users took to Twitter to condemn the VIP culture. “We all supported you @ImranKhanPTI not to see Usman Buzdar flying with family in jets, moving around with 15/20 cars protocol and acting like a king. We have already seen enough of such people. Please don’t disappoint us. Your sincerely, Aam Pakistani,” tweeted a user who uses handle @MaafKro

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