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Shehbaz Sharif: Achievements, Shortcomings, and More

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Former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif may have tried hard, but he could not create any significant impact. To begin with, there is a distinction between being a Prime Minister and a province’s Chief Minister. Schedule IV of the Constitution, read in conjunction with Articles 70(4) and 153, 154, defines the powers of the Federal government and CCI. Shehbaz Sharif never adhered to the constitutional scheme of governance. He lacked understanding of the roles expected of a prime minister.

The most concerning aspect of his governance was neglecting subjects in parts 1 and 2 of the Federal legislative list. While PTI’s governments remained functional in KPK and Punjab, he could not interfere in their matters. However, upon their dissolution, he assumed control of KPK and Punjab, effectively becoming the de facto CM of both provinces with the collusion of their caretaker CMs. He could have exerted control over the provinces through chief secretaries and IGs, as the latter are federal employees posted by the federal government in provincial positions, albeit illegally and unconstitutionally. His later tenure resembled that of a CM more than a PM.

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Pakistan is a federation, and Shehbaz Sharif could not effectively perform as a federal prime minister. He did not establish himself as a statesman in international affairs. His primary focus was on intervening in provincial affairs. He attempted to replicate his style of governance at the federal level, but failed due to the inherent differences in the roles of the two offices.

The PDM government produced some of the worst legislation in Pakistan’s history. It began with amendments to NAB laws and concluded with revisions to the infamous Official Secrets Act. This legislation is viewed as being against the constitution and human rights, making it one of the worst in Pakistan’s history. An outgoing assembly should not engage in legislating. Furthermore, these changes were person-specific and target-oriented, rather than being aligned with the spirit of the constitution and the law.

Shahbaz Sharif failed to introduce any meaningful reforms, nor did he make any efforts in that direction. He relied on resource distribution as an economic model. But what exactly is this model? It revolves around borrowing money and redistributing it. His approach consistently bypassed fostering economic growth or manufacturing. He will be remembered for presiding over a period of high inflation and unemployment.

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He is closely tied to bureaucracy. His administrative approach largely hinges on relying on the bureaucracy, which is considered outdated and ill-suited for a modern, technologically advanced world. His administration exhibited strict control over bureaucracy and police, leveraging them for political gains and exploiting state resources for personal popularity and advantage.

Lastly, he and his cabinet hindered the holding of elections, constituting a subversion of the constitutional process. His era has been detrimental to the rule of law and democracy, as aptly noted by Shahid Khaqan Abbassi. Additionally, he lacks substantial offerings for the forthcoming elections.

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