LAHORE - Following the resignation of Ch Muhammad Sarwar as the Punjab governor, the PML-N government is facing trouble in looking for his replacement and satisfying the public regarding the charges framed by Chaudhry Sahib against the ruling party before the media not this time but also in the past on different occasions.

Ch Sarwar, a Glasgow-based Pakistani, who had surrendered his British citizenship to accept the Punjab governorship, has been in the media over the last many months as not comfortable with the PML-N government. From his body language, the PML-N leadership itself was prepared for the expected step from his side anytime though on some occasions his complaints and concerns were entertained by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif himself. This overture had made Ch Sarwar defer the decision of quitting the office for the time being amid the options given to him, as sources relevant to the development say, to accept an advisory role at the federal level to act at a larger national landscape and a Senate ticket, but he remained ill at ease with the N-government in the province throughout.

Ch Sarwar, who had played a vital role in winning Pakistan GSP+ status for additional exports of textile items to the European markets and had pulled the government out of the crisis created by Dr Tahirul Qadri last year, remained disgruntled on many issues, mainly the availability of clean water, education and health facilities to the people, the crushing thana culture in the province and local government elections. His last critical statement in which he termed cancellation of US President Barack Obama’s visit to Pakistan a failure of the foreign policy of the government was really irksome and embarrassing for the rulers and proved sufficient to seal his fate.

The party at present is not inclined to explain its position about the tirade of Ch Sarwar as what he said did not criticise any leader of PML-N and its performance, but he hinted at the problems which actually existed while the PML-N government was trying to solve them through untiring efforts, said a senior party leader on the condition of not being named. He said the government had already taken cognizance of the problems Ch Sarwar pointed out and his last meeting with the Punjab chief minister amply showed that he did not have any complaints.

The outgoing governor, he said, had decided to make Pakistan his permanent abode where his political role in the times to come cannot be overruled. What he said can be reckoned as the concern of a politician and not a charge sheet against the government, he added. He expressed the hope that Ch Sarwar would remain a part of the PML-N.

At the top level of the PML-N leadership, consultation over nomination of next governor is in progress. Sources privy to the development say the party leadership wants a suitable name for this slot from South Punjab, but the final decision in this regard would be taken after considering all aspects which also include the PPP factor in that part of the province. The sources at the same time do not rule out the possibility of a dark horse coming to this office in addition to the known names as the top brass of the party has also one or two names from the bureaucrats in mind.

At the moment, the sources say, the names of ex-MNA Ch Saud Majeed, Senator Ch Jaffar Iqbal, Punjab Minister Begum Zakiya Shahnawaz and Senator Muhammad Rafiq Rajwana advocate from South Punjab, Senator Raja Zafarul Haq from Rawalpindi division and Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan are being considered. In addition, the names of PML-N City President Pervez Malik MNA and Khawaja Ahmad Hassan, chairman, Lahore Transport Company, are in the media reports. Each of these figures has his/her worth and value for the party.

Ch Saud Majeed was elected an MNA from Bahawalpur, defeating PML-Q stalwart Ch Pervaiz Elahi in 2008 elections. He has good ties with the Sharifs, particularly with Hamza Shahbaz Sharif. Ch Saud is a member of the committee, headed by Hamza, constituted for constructing Diamir Bhasha Dam, and his input in the energy sector is valued at the party level.

Ch Jaffar Iqbal is an old parliamentarian who has also held top offices in the party. He played a vital role in the last elections in bringing the major groups from Sindh and South Punjab to the party fold. Jaffar is a confidant of the Sharifs and a lobby is active to see him as the governor. This lobby also highlights importance of Jaffar in strengthening the party in case LG elections are held in near future in the Punjab and addressing deprivations of the people of South Punjab for which the government has announced historic development package.

There were rumours about Begum Zakiya Shahnawaz’s appointment as the Punjab governor in the media last months when there were reports on imminent resignation of Ch Sarwa.

The sources say the name of veteran politician Raja Zafarul Haq finds favour with the party leadership for his acumen and respect among all political parties.

Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan’s name for the office of governor was considered when Makhdoom Ahmad Mahmood of PPP was holding this slot. On his election as the Punjab Assembly speaker, Ch Sarwar was appointed against this slot.

The sources say the process of formal and informal consultation at the party level is on and the final decision may take a week.