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Wednesday Apr 07 2021

Punjab's Buzdar given yet another warning over performance, says federal minister

Prime Minister Imran Khan (L) and Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar (R).

  • A Cabinet minister asserts that Usman Buzdar has been given a few month to improve his performance or "face the consequences."
  • Punjab CM has recently been very active talking to the press and holding briefings on his govt's "performance".
  • Sources say everyone in the govt and PTI, except PM Imran Khan, feels the CM was given a responsibility "beyond his capacity."

LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar has been given yet another warning to improve his performance, a federal minister believed to be close to Prime Minister Imran Khan has claimed, according to a Wednesday report published in the Daily Jang.

The cabinet minister, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, asserted that Buzdar has been given a few month to improve his performance or "face the consequences."

In recent weeks, the Punjab chief minister has been very active in issuing political statements and holding press conferences related to the "performance" of his government.

It was a matter of Buzdar's abilities, the source said with a smile, adding that everyone in the PTI regime and the ruling party itself —except PM Imran Khan — feels that the CM has been given a responsibility which is "beyond his capacity."

"Even if you ask the prime minister's peon, he will tell you that Buzdar is the wrong choice," the insider claimed.

The federal minister revealed that Buzdar kept facing a tough time in every meeting with the premier because Imran Khan is his only supporter. According to the source, the top leadership of the former ruling party, the PML-N, has prevented its political workers from criticising the Punjab CM.

The PML-N leadership knew that as long as Buzdar ruled Punjab, the party would continue benefiting and the PTI suffering, the source claimed, adding that the 'establishment' was not happy with PM Imran Khan's choice.

In the past, "these people" had directly informed the prime minister of their dissatisfaction but the latter was worried as to who could be trusted in Buzdar's place if the chief minister was removed.

PM Imran Khan did not wish to bring Aleem Khan or Mian Muhammad Aslam Iqbal to the post of Punjab's chief minister, they added, noting that even though many PTI leaders did not like Buzdar, they would cite the premier's view that there was a shortage of choice of lawmakers in this regard.

When asked if the reports were true this time around since PM Imran Khan has in the past publicly supported Buzdar, the minister said the CM has now been given a final warning and the deadline is the budget announcement for fiscal year 2021-2022 (FY21-22).

Ever since the 'warning', Buzdar has become active insofar the media is concerned, the source added.

Last week, the Punjab chief minister had claimed in a press conference that his government had recovered 15,000 acres of government land worth Rs450 billion. It was the largest operation in the province'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 said, explaining his government's efforts to preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The Buzdar government has been criticised for its poor performance and frequent transfers of civil servants, including at the Secretariat and field staff, while political interference in the Punjab bureaucracy's affairs has been unprecedented so much so that it has become common.

It is believed that matters were not under the control of the Punjab chief minster anymore.

The 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.