How much can one man really do? How many fires can a single public servant put out? How many broken institutions can be made thriving by the singular force of will of one person?
And perhaps more importantly, what is the cost of such dedication?
One cannot quite help but feel afraid for Mohsin Naqvi because of just how much he is taking on. Afraid for his health, afraid for his sanity, afraid for his being. The gentleman Chief Minister had selflessly taken charge of Punjab at a time when the province had become the object of a mean tug-of-war between the PTI and the PML-N. Not only did the man take over the mantle of the Chief Ministership he has gone above and beyond his duty. Mr Naqvi had come in for a mere 90 days. In that time he was supposed to conduct elections, cut a few ribbons, maybe get the odd favour done for a second-cousin and try to sit in his chair and watch the province not burn to the ground.
Instead he answered this call to public service with a resolve far greater than the constitution recommends. Not only has he been busy visiting hospitals, chairing meetings, and unveiling plaques but he has also been showering Lahore with artificial rain and approving massive flyovers and underpasses worth billions of rupees aimed at making the tiring commute of motorists heading to defence signal-free. His commitment has been so unparalleled that even after his constitutionally mandated 90 days were up, he wordlessly continues to serve as Chief Minister of Punjab.
In fact, the CM extraordinaire has now been in charge for just over a year. That is a longer stint in power than both Pervez Elahi and Hamza Shehbaz combined. And now it seems he has found a new mission in life as well.
Mr Naqvi has graciously accepted the post of chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). One would do well to remember that there is a lot to the job of PCB Chairman. Unlike being a caretaker CM, it actually involves some sense of management skill and business acumen. People don’t quite realise that the chairman of the cricket board’s primary responsibility is to make sure the PCB is thriving and profitable.
Of course, Mr Naqvi would feel well qualified for this. For starters, he is a media tycoon. And really, how different can running a local-news empire be from being the head honcho of the largest sport in the country really be? On top of this there is some precedent to a former caretaker CM of Punjab becoming Chairman of the PCB. In fact, Najam Sethi has had four goes at the chairmanship since stepping down as caretaker CM in 2013. Although to be very fair, Mr Sethi only was CM for 90 days and he also took the job at the PCB after stepping down as CM.
Besides, if anyone is concerned about Mohsin Naqvi being CM and PCB chairman then they shouldn’t worry. The overlap will barely be for a week or so. One might even say Mr Naqvi doesn’t want to waste even a single day between jobs so thought he’d get started a bit early. In any case, there is precedent for holding high office and also running cricket in the country. After all, the late Field Marshal Ayub Khan was both Army Chief and President of Pakistan when he was chairman of the then Board of Control for Cricket in Pakistan (BCCP) from 1958-1960 before handing it over to Justice Cornellius. The late Chief Justice thankfully didn’t take the job while he was still the country’s premiere judge, but he did take up the appointment the very next month after his retirement.
All this precedent aside, one worries for Mohsin Naqvi. He has taken on so much in such little time. A difficult turn is coming for Pakistan Cricket as it is. The franchise fees of PSL teams will be up for negotiation, there are concerns regarding how much money the ICC will give Pakistan this year, and we are supposed to host the ICC Champions Trophy in 2025. How much can this one man really do?
We implore you Mr Chief Minister. Please give it a rest. For your own sake if nothing else.