The resignation of Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar on January 29 came as little surprise to anybody who had been watching his brief tenure closely. Doubts had been expressed as to his suitability for the role coming as he did from a British parliamentary background, which is a very different shark-tank from that found in Pakistan. Any expectation that he might have had that the title of governor came with any powers to actually govern were soon dispelled, and he found himself at odds with the monolithic presence in Punjab of the Sharif brothers, who do not take lightly to arrivistes treading on their flower beds. Mr Sarwar was very much the architect of his own downfall, making comments about the way in which foreign policy is both formulated and conducted. His comments would have been out of place in most contexts, but were in foreign policy terms anyway idiosyncratic and displayed little by way of a grasp of foreign policy as practised in the modern world.
Mr Sarwar came to the role of governor of Punjab giving up his British citizenship as he did, a move he may yet regret. It is said that Mr Sarwar jumped before he was pushed and that there were those within the PML-N ruling elite who wanted to get rid of him; that said, he had some pointed remarks to make on his farewell. He apologised to the people of Pakistan for failing to solve their problems and observed — quite correctly as it happens — that land grabbers and mafias were more powerful than the office of governor. Mr Sarwar also correctly pointed to the rising incidence of acid-throwing attacks, the rise in child abuse and the way in which murderers and other criminals are able to wander at large unhindered or troubled by the forces of law and order. He is now available for hire by any of the other mainstream political parties, which are already weighing the pros and cons of having him aboard. The PML-N is unlikely to want to retain such a high profile loose cannon within its ranks, but it is also unlikely that Pakistan has seen the last of Mr Sarwar.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 31st, 2015.
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