Much has been said and written about Barack Obama's landslide win and how it is going to impact the international politics in the days to come. A newspaper columnist would certainly want a break with the run-of-the-mill, shoddy running commentaries on issues comprehensively covered and commented upon by the international media. Will a Pakistani living in abject poverty be interested in knowing how delighted Nelson Mandela was to see a fellow black man emerge to occupy the world's most powerful position? Maybe there are more important things for the poor and downtrodden to worry about, especially when the democratic government they had elected into power seems least bothered about mitigating their miseries. The ruling leadership remained too badly bogged down in the yet-to-be resolved disputes with its coalition partners to focus its attention on the issue of governance. The Punjab government is, however, making the best out of a bad job. It is by all means far ahead of the centre and the rest of the three provinces on the public delivery front despite deliberate attempts by the federal government to destabilize it. If on the one hand it is concerned about the falling standards of health and education sectors, on the other it is also aware of its responsibility of taking care of the people's livelihood and security. Its adherence to the principle of decentralization of authority is reflected in a number of decisions it has taken since its assumption of power some months back. For instance, through an amendment in the Prison Rules 1978, the Punjab government has created a provision for the district coordination officers to allow a prisoner to attend the funeral of his 'blood or other relative of the first degree'. Previously, his relatives had to travel all the way to Lahore to seek permission from the provincial home secretary, who would accept or reject it without any lawful authority. There is another important thing that ought to be highlighted. The duration of the permission granted under the amended rules is not to exceed twelve hours, commencing from the time the prisoner is taken out of the prison till his re-admission. That does not include the time consumed on journey to and from jail. The Home Department has also proposed another amendment seeking remission for prisoners improving their educational qualification during incarceration to be counted towards their paroles. But while Mian Shahbaz Sharif is being perceived as a role model of good governance there is a downside to his administration. Some of his cabinet members are not only not keeping pace with him but are also trying to sabotage his plans. Punjab Local Government Minister Sardar Amjad Khosa's is a case in point. Rumour has it that there is a grid of former Aitchisonians, three bureaucrats and the Minister himself that rules the roost and does not tolerate anyone objecting to the irregularities it committed. The Secretary Local Government, who is closely related to PML-N MNA Kh Muhammad Asif, has been on the Minister's hit list from the day he had transferred one of his additional secretaries who also happened to be an old Aithcisonian. Like father like son. The Minister probably does not feel comfortable interacting with someone having no proud lineage. And what might have added to his inherent arrogance was his brief stint as interim CM. On being tipped for the coveted slot he started throwing tantrums, threatening civil servants with dire consequences if they did not obey his orders. The perception that the Punjab Chief Minister is aware of the activities of his Local Government Minister but ignores them just out of respect for his illustrious father is hard to fathom. Those who know Mian Shahbaz are of the view that he does not believe in compromising on principles. During his last term he had sacked two of his senior cabinet members on complaints of electricity theft and refused to take them back even on his elder brother's insistence. One wonders why he has not been briefed by the Chief Secretary who knows for sure that the top-level tussle at the Local Government Department has given much offence to Kh Asif. It is time for the CM to assess how loyal his handpicked bureaucracy has been to him. There is every likelihood of the Federal Government making a tempting offer to Kh Asif for his brother-in-law in an attempt to neutralize one of its most vocal critics. But the real cause of concern for Mian Shahbaz should be the conduct of his quarrelsome Local Government Minister. Perhaps he needs to do a lot of soul-searching about whether he can let political expediencies come in the way of his dream to turn Punjab into a model of good governance. E-mail: sarmad@nation.com.pk