Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar on Thursday resigned from his post apparently after his differences with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reached a critical point following his unguarded statement on Pakistan’s foreign policy.
Sarwar had censured the Foreign Office over US President Barack Obama visiting India and not Pakistan, and termed it a ‘failure’ on the part of the country’s foreign policy mandarins.
However, sources in the PM House told The Express Tribune the premier had already made up his mind to eject Sarwar from the Punjab governor’s seat for a variety of reasons. Sarwar’s recent statement only hastened that move.
Sarwar sent his resignation to the President House and the PM House on Wednesday night. On Thursday President Mamnoon Hussain accepted his resignation on the advice of PM Nawaz.
Following Chaudhry Sarwar’s resignation, Speaker Punjab Assembly Rana Muhammad Iqbal assumed office as Punjab’s acting governor.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is likely to discuss name of the new governor on Saturday or Sunday during his family meeting. However, Chuadhry Saud Majeed, a trusted friend of the Sharif family, is regarded as hot favourite for the post.
Addressing a crowded press conference at Governor Office later in the day, Sarwar apologised to Pakistanis for his ‘failure’ to solve their problems.
“I beg pardon from overseas Pakistanis and people of Pakistan for not being able to solve their problems. Land grabbers and mafias here are stronger than the office of governor,” Sarwar said.
He, however, said that neither Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif nor Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif nor anybody else had pressured him to resign.
“I have good relations with CM Shahbaz Sharif and PM Nawaz Sharif. I am thankful to them for their trust in me,” he added.
He also denied that the PM Office or Foreign Office had contacted him about his statements regarding US President Barack Obama’s visit to India. He, however, stuck to his guns by saying that the US president’s visit to India and his act of ignoring Pakistan was a failure of the country’s foreign policy.
“I am unable to understand why 1.5 billion Muslims are not given representation on the UNSC while India, which is a violator of human rights, is being backed as a permanent member of this body,” he lamented.
“The United Nations is not functioning properly. I will oppose India’s permanent membership of the UN on every forum until the Kashmir dispute is resolved. Pakistan has suffered losses worth $100 billion and 55,000 lives in the war against terrorism. The US should treat Pakistan on equal footing,” he added.
He said real democracy couldn’t be established in Pakistan without local government. “I will use my energies for the holding of local government elections. I will live and die in Pakistan,” he said.
He said he tried to serve people during his 18-month tenure as governor and played a role in winning Pakistan the GST Plus status. He said he tried to uphold merit at Aitcheson College and tried to get poor students the right to get admission there.
He said the performance of the government was before everyone. “Injustice is rising and the problems are increasing by the day. Incidents of acid throwing on women, child abuse and kidnapping are on the rise. Murderers freely move around while complainants run from pillar to post,” he said.
Sarwar got emotional when he was leaving the office and meeting his staff. He was misty-eyed when he shook hands with the staff.
Later, the outgoing governor met Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and thanked him for expressing confidence in him.
According to well-placed sources in the PML-N, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif were uneasy over Chaudhry Sarwar’s repeated intervention in government affairs and his remarks on national and international issues.
They believed that Sarwar, instead of performing his duty as Punjab governor, had taken up a role that went beyond constitutional limits.
Sources close to Chaudhry Sarwar said he was upset over his largely ceremonial role of a governor.
They said the former governor before coming to Pakistan had expressed his desire either to be appointed as Pakistan’s representative to UN or Pakistan’s foreign minister but both of his requests were ignored.
Sarwar’s new political career
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) and Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) senior leadership have offered former Punjab governor to join their parties, The Express Tribune has learnt.
The PTI has offered him the slot of party’s central president, while the PPP has offered him the post of party’s president for central Punjab, sources said.
Sarwar said he would make a final decision after taking his aides in Scotland and the UK into confidence. The former governor would discuss the offers with his family and friends, before deciding whether to part ways with the PML-N.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 30th, 2015.
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