Sarwar was cornered by CM on all fronts

Source: Published in Current Affairs on Friday, January 30, 2015

LAHORE: Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar, who resigned as the Punjab governor on Thursday, had “invested” heavily in terms of both finance and time on the Sharifs when they were in exile in London.

To become eligible for the office of the governor, he surrendered his British nationality.

Differences between him and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif started emerging soon afterwards as the latter disliked intervention of anyone in the provincial affairs – from education, to health, to law and order, etc.

Cornered by the CM on various fronts, the governor then sought help of his overseas friends to initiate a clean water project. But here, too, Shahbaz “intervened” and as a “counter” strategy started a similar project under the provincial government.

They also developed differences when Sarwar, as chairman of the Aitchison College board of governors, refused to take any dictation from Shahbaz on the issue of sacking of some teachers of the institute as well as its closure on security concerns after the Dec 16 Peshawar Army School tragedy.

He had earlier hit headlines when Dr Tahirul Qadri sought his role as mediator and guarantor when the PAT chief’s plane was diverted from Islamabad to the Lahore airport on June 23.

The governor also played a role in convincing the PML-N leadership to allow PAT take out its long march from Lahore to Islamabad on Aug 14, 2014.

His controversial meeting with the MQM chief in London during the Islamabad sit-in also did not go well with the Sharifs. In a meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, he offered to resign but the premier asked him to continue until further orders.

Purchase of a house in the Defence Housing Authority of Lahore by him a month ago threw a clear hint that all was not well between him and the ruling PML-N and that the new abode was meant to vacate the Governor’s House.

He had been criticising the Punjab government on issues like not holding local body elections. But his statement that Obama’s India visit was a diplomatic failure of Islamabad proved to be proverbial last nail in the coffin of his relations with the Sharifs and he was “advised” to step down “if he cannot learn the manners of working with the rulers”.

Resultantly, he tendered his resignation on Thursday.

Sarwar hails from Toba Tek Singh district.

He graduated from a Faisalabad college before migrating to Britain. He started his cash & carry business in Glasgow in 1982. After establishing his business, he began taking part in local (UK) politics and was elected Labour Party counselor in 1992.

In 1997, he contested the general election and was elected from Glasgow as the first Muslim MP in 1997. He is also the first MP who took oath on the Holy Quran in the British parliament.

In 2001 and 2005 he again returned to the parliament from the Labour Party’s platform.

He also remained a member as well as chairman of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee besides taking active part in resolving the Ireland issue.

In 2010, he announced not to contest further electoral bouts in the UK as his son, Anas Sarwar, replaced him from the Glasgow constituency.

People Mentioned