Many years ago when Mian Shahbaz Sharif addressed the Punjab Assembly as Leader of the Opposition the house was struck by the spellbinding effect of his speech with every single word giving expression to the agony the common man had been enduring for over half a century. Politicians in this country do not tire of indulging in rhetoric. That's how they are. But it wasn't merely a well-worded critique of the government policies, nor an attempt at playing to the gallery. There was a politician, who was genuinely concerned about the plight of his people and seriously thought about changing the destiny of the nation that had rendered innumerable sacrifices to liberate itself from the shackles of the colonial rule. Isn't it a pity that more than six decades after its independence Pakistan is still being perceived as a client state with our rulers having no qualms about seeking doles from around the world? Those who had stashed billions of dollars in foreign banks and returned to power after the general elections last year are working overtime to plunder the national exchequer while compromising our sovereignty to satiate their hunger for wealth. No matter how much fortunes they or their uniformed saviours have made they cannot help but feel the shame of being looked down upon as beggars when they kneel before their foreign masters to take down dictation to fight insurgencies in the two western provinces. They don't mind being lectured on adopting the American approach on collateral damage when it comes to killing civilians in the so-called War on Terror. There is little wonder no world power dares to give dictation to India and everyone dictates Pakistan. Simple answer: Beggars cannot be choosers. Mian Shahbaz was right in saying that the country which had denied freedom to its own people could not do much to liberate the suppressed Kashmiris from illegal occupation. The speech he delivered at the swearing-in ceremony of the governing body of the Lahore Press Club was reminiscent of the one that still reverberates the Punjab Assembly 15 years down the road. Call him whatever you want, a hard taskmaster or an aggressive administrator who can even turn abrasive when he finds the bureaucracy and couldn't-careless ministers doing little to solve the problems facing the common man. Deep down he feels the pain for the poor and the downtrodden not getting relief from the dysfunctional judiciary or becoming the victim of the dreaded thana culture. And his blood boils when he finds the land grabbers or those who extend patronage to them permeating the system and endangering the edifice of good governance that was designed to do away with social injustices. Mian Shahbaz set a no-nonsense tone for all sorts of mafias coming in the way of his mission to establish the rule of law which serves as a basis to ensure respectable living to the underprivileged sections of society. The marathon exercise that he has conducted to make sure that the poor grower gets the right price to the last grain of the wheat the government procures from him is to bolster the confidence of the otherwise oppressed farming community that had lost the hope of getting rid of the exploitation of the middleman. The mafia that had left the grower completely disenchanted had to be dismantled if Pakistan with agriculture as the mainstay of its economy was to be converted from a food-deficient state into the one that after meeting its domestic needs could export the surplus stuff and earn huge foreign exchange in return. It was this realisation that kept the CM conducting surprise raids at wheat procurement centres, shuttling between one district and the other and visiting every nook and corner of the province over and over again. And he had reason not to rely on his food minister and the officials of his department whom he caught napping on his return last week from a trip abroad. That he is deeply preoccupied with the wheat issue doesn't make him lose sight of the growing insurgency in Swat and the threat Messrs Sufi Muhammad and Maulvi Fazlullah are posing to national security. A careful analysis of the situation has helped him reach the conclusion that such elements would keep rearing their heads so long as courts continue to deny justice to the poor and the rotten administrative machinery is not subjected to accountability to purge it of the corrupt and delinquent officials. Mian Shahbaz's intentions to evolve a system that is free of corruption and coercion cannot be doubted. But to make it happen he needs a devoted team that could keep pace with him.