Daily Briefs

Photo : Dawn

27 January 2020, Monday 

PTI's Punjab problem

Balancing the interests of the party, bureaucracy and coalition

PR Daily Brief | D. Suba Chandran

27 January 2020, Monday

Imran Khan visited Lahore, the provincial capital of Punjab and had one-to-one discussions with, Usman Buzdar, the Chief Minister of Punjab, and also met with PTI members of the provincial assembly and the national assembly. Imran Khan was quoted saying: “a comprehensive and effective mechanism be developed for better liaison among elected representatives and civil bureaucracy” and “the chief secretary and IG Police should work as team members of CM Buzdar.” (Dawn, 27 January 2020)

Trouble was brewing within Punjab for the ruling PTI government, during the recent months. There were three aspects to the trouble. First was the trouble within the PTI; not everything has been smooth for the PTI in Punjab – both within the provincial assembly and outside it. Though Usman Buzdar was handpicked by Imran Khan, he has been considered as a weak candidate for the post. Many suspect, that it was his weakness that factored in Imran Khan choosing him to lead Punjab so that he would have a yes man in Lahore ruling Punjab. Many within the party in the province, believe they have a better chance and credential to lead Punjab on behalf of the party.

The second aspect is related to the relationship between the civilian bureaucracy and political leadership. The civilian bureaucracy in Punjab, the PTI leaders in Punjab complain that it acts on its own and does not listen to the political leadership at the provincial and constituency levels. It was this difference that has prompted Imran Khan to warn that there has to be a “better liaison among elected representatives and civil bureaucracy.”

The third aspect of Imran Khan’s meeting with Buzdar is related to the trouble within the ruling coalition in Punjab. The PML-Q led by the Chaudhry brothers have been upset with the PTI within Punjab. The party’s electoral strength is not significant; it has three seats in the national Parliament, and ten seats in the provincial assembly of Punjab. However, the PML-Q’s support is crucial for the PTI – both at the national assembly and in Punjab. Besides, the PTI also has a problem with its other partner – MQM-P from Sindh. 

One of the primary complaints of the PML-Q is related to the above second aspect in terms of postings and transfers relating to civilian bureaucracy in those constituencies where PML-Q has a base.

Will Imran’s visit resolve the above three issues, or will only act as a band-aid? 

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