His blood hadn’t even dried that the focus of all the right wing media moved towards making the condemned, here and after, Mumtaz Qadri into a hero and then speculating who will be the new governor of Punjab. Such is the fear Shaheed Salmaan Taseer’s life and martyrdom as a governor of Punjab left amongst the rightists that they want to have a man of their own or at least their liking in the Governor House.
If you all remember in the early part of December 2010, there was a media circus about the case of a missing governor. Then the rightist media led by Jang Group and Geo gave headlines on 14th December that Salmaan Taseer has left for Dubai, even to the extent of showing his boarding passes. To the utter shock of Jang Group and Geo, Salmaan Taseer appeared the same day at Alhamra Lahore. He had his day. All he said was “they like having food at the Governor House. They haven’t gotten it for a long time.”
Anyways, part one of the plan has been achieved. Getting the lion killed. Now the victory would be to have a controversial governor in Punjab. Once you have a controversial governor, it is a field day for the right wing media and the power hungry PML-N. Salmaan Taseer’s flamboyance on one side, there was never ever a single rupee’s corruption allegation against him. I belonging to the corporate sector, used to be amazed at the man’s innovative businesses and most importantly having his companies as listed companies. Having listed companies means there is transparency. He had brought in foreign investment flows into his businesses as well. In all, Salmaan Taseer was one clean man.
First and foremost, we have to understand that it is the prerogative of the President to appoint a governor of any province. It is only Punjab where there was a genuine PPP representative as a governor. Do Zulfiqar Magsi, Eshrat ul Ebad and Owais Ghani belong to the PPP? Our president has been magnanimous in accommodating friends and (ex)enemies to highest constitutional offices.
Now what are the choices PPP has in Punjab? Jahangir Badar, Babar Awan, Latif Khosa? All three are senators from Punjab. If made governor, one seat will have to be vacated in the Senate and it will be impossible to have one person elected in their place as PML-N will be able to get one member elected because of their near majority in the Punajb Assembly. Jahangir Badar is a PPP loyalist, however, despite of having been in the top hierarchy of the PPP for nearly 2 and half decades, Jahangir Badar has not been to able to deliver the goods in Punjab.
Babar Awan is an aggressive person, however, his role in the last few months has been under a lot of question marks. Jang and Geo hate him. There are charges of corruption against him especially related to Harris Steel Mills. Another trait one has seen in him is that Babar Awan likes to do things on a solo basis, something which is quite evident with the distribution of funds for bar associations. Also, too many controversies will cause the PPP to be on defensive most of the time.
Latif Khosa is also being considered a strong candidate. Rumors are that he is being lobbied by a very rich Pakistani who has been creating civilian “naval” towns all across Pakistan. Latif Khosa has had a few blots on him. He has been removed from two posts for right or wrong reasons. There are always rumors of some involvement in scams. From getting his daughter to a post in law ministry while the AG to having his sons in various places, Latif Khosa likes to make it a “family affair”. We already have an executive family in the form of the Sharifs. No need to have the Khosas and turn the province into a reality show.
Another possible candidate is the erstwhile Aitzaz Ahsan. His role in the Lawyers Movement is for sure not a plus point and jeopardizes his chances. And off course, there are chants that he is complicit with the Sharifs for various matters, case in point being his winning the seat in Lahore in 2002 elections.
There will off course be other candidates, however, the best candidate for the position would be Shaheed Salmaan Taseer’s wife, Amna Taseer. She has already lost her most prized possession to extremists, she doesn’t need to fear anything anymore. She has a clean track record and most importantly, she can be aggressive with the Sharifs. The right wingers have already exposed her whole family, tried their best to destroy their reputation and taken Salmaan Taseer from her. What else can she lose? In my humble opinion, it will be an ideal tribute to Salmaan Taseer and a right message to the extremists that you may have removed a rock, but there is a mountain to overcome.