The NEWS: Former Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif is effectively back in the provincial assembly. Following the decision by the three candidates opposing him to withdraw their papers, Sharif has won his seat from Bhakkar without contest. The victory is significant given that the PML-N had claimed efforts continued to be made to block their entry into the assemblies. Just days ago, a taped conversation allegedly featuring arch Sharif rival Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and containing an assurance that senior members of the judiciary had been asked to reject the candidature of the Sharifs, stirred up a new furore. It is a reflection of reality in our country that little has since been heard of this whole matter, and it is unclear if any effort is being made to investigate the alleged effort to influence a key judicial verdict.
Shahbaz Sharif has indeed already been to a large extent acting as the Punjab chief minister, advising and instructing the young Dost Mohammad Khosa, who has proved he is a politician with considerable ability during his brief stint in top office. However, the official return of Shahbaz is still significant. For one, it is expected he may be able to adopt a tougher line on issues that range from the widespread hoarding of ‘atta’ currently taking place in the province to matters such as delays in the completion of road projects. These issues make a great deal of difference to the lives of people. In Lahore, the city that received the lion’s share of attention under the Sharifs, people still recall the improvements made in traffic, sewage systems, parks and much else. They hope these will be repeated under this second coming of the younger Sharif brother. But, one must also hope that, learning from the errors made in the past, the ruthless gunning down of people in murders labelled ‘police encounters’ does not once more become a reality. Along with his zeal for good governance, Mr Sharif was also known for a spirit of vindictiveness that was too a hallmark of his tenure. This time round, one must hope the years in exile have helped temper this aspect of his style of governance, enabling Punjab to benefit from the more positive aspects of his administrative ability.
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