Governor Punjab Salman Taseer talking to the media persons after an exhibition at Al Hamra Art Gallery. A local news channel aired the news of Governor Punjab, being on some secret tour to a foreign country on Tuesday. – Online Photo

LAHORE: Punjab Governor Salman Taseer sprang a surprise on his detractors by making a sudden appearance at an exhibition here amid rumours that he had surreptitiously flown out to Dubai.

“Shahbaz Sharif should not worry. We are here and we stand by him,” the governor said on Tuesday afternoon at Alhamra Arts Centre where he attended an exhibition of photographs about Benazir Bhutto’s life.

“I am not going anywhere. When I leave the country I inform the Presidency and it is up to the Presidency to issue a notification (accordingly).” Before his appearance at Alhamra, Governor Taseer was the subject of widespread rumours that he had once again slipped out of the country, Dubai being his reported destination.

The rumours got some credence when some channels flashed two boarding cards with the Taseer surname written on it.

One of the cards said ‘Taseer S’ had flown out of Lahore on it, while the other which also bore ‘Taseer A’ as the title, was identified, rightly, as belonging to the governor’s wife, Aamna Taseer. More than one member of the Taseer households travels around with the initial ‘S’.

As it turned out, those looking to catch Salman Taseer in the act ended up spying on Shehrbano, his daughter. The mix-up provided the trigger-happy governor with a real opportunity to display his signature sarcasm in public.

Only last week, he had been grilled by the media and by the PML-N ministers for disappearing from the scene unannounced.

In that instance, the people learnt on the good authority of Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah that the governor had gone to Dubai, but later he was located in Sri Lanka.

By way of an attempt at damage control, Mr Taseer’s side said that he had moved only as far as Sukkur but this defence was dented with the aid of ‘evidence’ of his journey to Sri Lanka.

Mr Taseer was blamed for creating a potentially unsavoury constitutional crisis by vanishing from the scene without formal leave and without putting in place an acting governor to look after the affairs of the province.

It was said that since the governor was in Dubai, Speaker Rana Iqbal Ahmed Khan could not chair the session as a consequence of the constitutional role assigned to him in such a situation.

The incident led to an exchange of a series of fiery statements and one true relic from that fight was a statement by Rana Sana in which he encouraged the ‘deserter’ (Governor Taseer) to come back home by promising him amnesty.

As this gem from the Punjab law minister drew a chuckle from the spectators, it was clear that the government of Chief Minster Sharif had won one more round against a man who it said had been imposed on it in the most oppressive meaning of the term.

The governor also lambasted a media group which he alleged was targeting him at the behest of the PML-N.

Mr Taseer asked Chief Minister Sharif not to waste his energies in keeping an eye on him and told him to concentrate on running the affairs of his government. “Shahbaz Sharif should relax; his government is not being toppled,” he said.