Just Muddling Through

The PML-N and PPP have come and slapped together some form of a government but how long will it last is anybody’s guess.

By S.R.H. Hashmi | June 2022

We are supposed to be following the British parliamentary system, but being far more adventurous, we bend it according to our liking, thus turning it into a novelty. For example, the British system comprises the ruling party and the opposition party having their functioning cabinet and shadow cabinet, respectively. In our system, at least in Punjab, we briefly had two cabinets, both claiming to be functional cabinets, with the shadow cabinet being non-existent.

This happened because the newly inducted Punjab Governor declared invalid the resignation of the party’s chief minister Usman Buzdar for having been addressed to the prime minister and not to the Governor. On that basis, the Governor resurrected Usman Buzdar as CM. With a resurrected CM already there, the Governor refused to recognize Hamza Shahbaz as CM, with administering oath to him being out of question.

Actually, Hamza’s election was held on orders from the Lahore High Court, which had also advised the Governor to administer oath to Hamza. The Governor deemed this as needless meddling and, going further, even sent a reference against the concerned judge to the Supreme Judicial Council. Eventually, the LHC asked the Speaker of the National Assembly to conduct the oath-taking ceremony at the Governor’s House in Lahore. The governor was absent from the ceremony while the IG Police and the Chief Secretary attended.

An amusing situation arose when, on being resurrected as CM, Usman Buzdar happily arrived at the Punjab Assembly, with official protocol, to hold a meeting. But, in the meantime, Hamza Shahbaz had been administered the oath, whereupon, the vehicles in the former CM’s protocol were reported to have rushed to the new CM’s location, forcing Usman Buzdar to use private transport to reach home.

Our politicians bitterly complain about interference from the Judiciary and the Establishment. But behaving like spoiled brats, they force others to intervene because, after all, the country has to be kept functioning.

Unfortunately, both the federal and Punjab governments are hanging by a thread and face the risk of being asked to prove their majority, which could reverse fortunes. This is especially true for the Punjab government which has been formed with the votes of PTI’s dissenting members who could be disqualified by the Election Commission, thus ending Hamza’s majority.

However, with Pakistani politics being unpredictable, let us play it by ear.

Also, if Imran Khan and Usman Buzdar could become the prime minister and chief minister, respectively, without either of them having any special qualification or relevant senior-level experience, why should Bilawal Bhutto’s appointment as a Foreign Minister ruffle feathers?

After all, the afore-stated examples – which are by no means exhaustive – prove the fact that in recent Pakistani politics, merit has rarely been the determining factor even for senior positions. Of course, dynastic politics pushes the merit factor further into insignificance. When two dynasties are competing for senior positions, their respective bargaining power is what determines the outcome.

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