THE governor of Pakistan’s central Punjab province resigned today (January 29), saying the country’s political system had failed ordinary people and served “only the elite class”.
Mohammad Sarwar, a businessman who served as a British MP for more than a decade, was appointed to the largely ceremonial role in Pakistan’s most populous and influential province in 2013.
The 62-year-old’s resignation, less than two years into the job, comes two days after he criticised the government for failing to persuade US President Barack Obama to visit.
Sarwar renounced his British citizenship to take the role in Punjab, but in his resignation speech in Lahore voiced disappointment at progress in the province.
“I am resigning because the system has failed to deliver to the masses,” Sarwar said.
“The system is serving only the elite class and the common man is deprived of justice, rights and prosperity.”
Punjab is the main power base of the centre-right Pakistan Muslim League-N (PMLN) party of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, which appointed Sarwar.
Sarwar, a Labour MP for more than 25 years in Glasgow, said he was frustrated at the lack of progress in Punjab.
“Social injustice is increasing in the province. The system is not delivering,” he said.
Sarwar called Pakistan’s inability to secure a visit from Obama - who this week made his second tour of arch-rival India - a “diplomatic failure”.
One of Sarwar’s senior staff said the governor had tendered his resignation last night (January 28) before announcing it today.
“The former governor left Governor House immediately after the press conference as a house was hired for him this morning,” the staffer said on condition of anonymity.
At his press conference today, Sarwar slammed the government for failing to address a widening poverty gap and doing more on crime.
“I want to see a Pakistan where the son of a farmer, a cobbler, an ironsmith can also go to the parliament and not just the sons of businessman and industrialists,” he said.