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DERA GHAZI KHAN: The nomination of first-time MPA and former tehsil nazim of the mountainous tribal area tehsil of Dera Ghazi Khan district Usman Buzdar as Punjab chief minister has been received with both high hopes and doubts by local political pundits and politicians. Mr Buzdar is also under the media scrutiny for a murder case registered against him and his family members in 1998.

Former chief minister Dost Muhammad Khosa told Dawn the nomination of Mr Buzdar as the chief minister was a good measure but an inexperience person at the top slot would automatically make Chaudhry Sarwar (governor designated) the most powerful man in the province. He said that in the future, Mr Buzdar might be replaced with some other party stalwart.

Former Punjab Assembly deputy speaker Sher Ali Gorchani welcomed the nomination of Mr Buzdar calling it a good omen for the deprived people of trans- Indus districts of Rajanpur and Dera Ghazi Khan. He said Mr Buzdar should be a full-term chief minister, and not a stopgap one.

CM-in-waiting was nominated in murder case in 1998

Former PPP MPA Khawaja Nizamul Mehmood, who defeated Mr Buzdar in the elections of 2013 and remained runner-up in the 2018 elections as an independent candidate, also congratulated his rival over his nomination for the chief executive of the province, and said he hoped he would deliver results to the deprived masses.

Political analyst Ibrahim Baig said that Jahangir Tareen and Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi would be remotely controlling the Punjab affairs. He said that in case his appeal against disqualification was accepted, Mr Tareen might replace him within weeks. In case Mr Buzdar remained the chief minister for five years, this would be a good step for the deprived area.

With spotlight on Mr Buzdar for the prized post, the murder case against him, his father and brother by Border Military Police Station of Sorra registered in 1998 was also making the rounds. The case was settled through a jirga in 2000. During the local bodies elections in 1998, an armed clash erupted between sub clans of Buzdar tribe - Chakaranis and Ladwanis. The Ladwanis were allegedly being backed by Mr Buzdar. The clash left six Chakarani tribesmen dead on the polling station of Goasani Sarbil. Later, a case was registered against 33 Ladwanis, besides Usman Buzdar (at that time he was contesting elections for the district assembly against Hiyat khan Chakarani ), his father Fateh Muhammad Buzdar and Jammadar of Border Military Police Umer Buzdar.

Hiyat Chakarani told Dawn that at that time, the Ladwanis were being backed by the Buzdar sardars. He alleged that sardars had provided weapons to the common tribesmen for rigging at the polling station of Goasani Sarbil. Later, the case was sent to the anti-terrorism court but it was decided through a jirga held under the supervision of custodian of Khawja Shah Sulaiman shrine- Khawja Attaullah. The compensation money was settle Rs7.5 million which was paid to the heirs of six deceased.

Fawad Chaudhry, the spokesperson for the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, told Dawn the case against Mr Buzdar was politically motivated and has been quashed.

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2018