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Fleeting moments

January 27, 2020

Season of the likeminded


January 27, 2020

Certain terms typically belong to our political arena and are not heard anywhere else. The ‘likeminded’ and the ‘forward bloc’ are the twin brothers constituted by politicians having identical thinking and common objectives.

Sometimes they want to be known as the likeminded and not the forward bloc, as the twenty lawmakers of the ruling party in Punjab want us to believe.

The usual grouse the likeminded or the forward bloc carry is that their political boss finds no time to give them a sympathetic ear. At present, the likeminded have joined hands against Chief Minister Usman Buzdar who they think is neither amenable nor does he acquiesce to their demand for development funds. This isn’t the first time lawmakers have complained against their political boss; PMLN lawmakers also grumbled sometimes against Shahbaz Sharif when he was CM Punjab.

While comparing the personality traits of former CM Shahbaz Sharif with incumbent CM Usman Buzdar, we observe that SS emerged as a vibrant sharp shooter and our Buzdar as laidback. SS was unpredictable, especially for the bureaucrats who remained on tenterhooks in his tenure; with Buzdar they’ve lived in peace. It’s said that SS was an insomniac and would materialise on ongoing projects at unusual hours unannounced. A hard driving political boss in the driving seat is usually a bad omen for the bureaucracy.

The likeminded have however stirred the political situation in Punjab much to the discomfort of CM Buzdar. More to his chagrin, a young politician of the PML-Q supposedly met top bureaucrats of the provincial administration. There was talk that it was decided that the PML-Q leadership would henceforth pass direct orders to senior bureaucrats, bypassing the chief minister.

The ensuing situation perturbed Buzdar so much that he reportedly complained to a senior PTI leader that he could not even sleep the whole night because of this worrying situation. How innocent!

Since this writer belongs to the same backward district, known as the backwaters of Punjab, as does the dear chief minister, the writer too has had some sleepless nights. Just when the people in Tehsil Taunsa Sharif dreamed about the city of holy saints becoming a new district, there develops an unsavoury political situation. Rightly they say that there’s no permanence in politics.

As an aside, Taunsa boasts of a higher literacy rate than the rest of the tehsils in District D G Khan. It has not only produced many saints but also Sufi poets. Mysticism pervades the city air. Quite a few descendants of the holy saints partook in politics and did well for themselves, as they enjoyed a large vote bank consisting of their disciples.

Legend has it that when an elderly saint decided to contest an election many moons ago, he arrived shrouded in a veil in his big vehicle to visit various villages. One of his accompanying disciples with booming voice would announce in the gathering that Hazrat Sahib (holy man) had come to ask for votes and people must vote for him. Otherwise, he would be elected even if the people didn’t vote for him, as the angels were all out to elect him.

The holy man was elected with a large majority. Indeed, such are the fables related to Taunsa to which CM Buzdar belongs. Although in modern democracies, no one would believe that angels vote and that their candidates never lose.

Nevertheless, the cause of disagreement between the mavericks who call themselves likeminded and their political boss is usually the allocation of development funds. Once the funds are allocated, the rest of the differences based on ‘principles’ are conveniently lulled into hibernation. It’s somewhat surprising that the likeminded mostly belong to southern Punjab and some among them hail from the CM’s home district.

While we talk about the likeminded in Punjab, a similar group has come to the fore in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. But it’s more impressive than the one in Punjab since it’s led by five ministers. It seems that the season of the likeminded has begun and footprints of impending changes are becoming visible.

The writer is a freelance columnist based in Lahore.

Email: [email protected]

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