Most of the moves initiated by the movers and shakers of the Punjab government against the previous set-up backfired one after the other in recent times. The bungling we see in their conduct not only exposes the rulers, their political class and administrative skills as leaders but also prod the people to ask the more pertinent question as to 'what is wrong with the Punjab government these days' which is not a good compliment for the Chief Minister and team surrounding him. But how the top functionaries of the Punjab government goofed up the Nazims issue has no parallel in the recent history. It seems to be a monumental misstep, probably, too much to suit to public genius. The Punjab government declared with all the pomp and show the District Nazims a corrupt breed of the highest order, embezzling some Rs. 94 billion. But all the allegations or claims, accompanied with a huge hullabaloo were based on audit objections, as it turned out to be in the end. The situation took an interesting turn when Auditor General in response to a few queries from Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer poured cold water on the fuss kicked up by the Punjab government. The AG made it clear that his office never found any embezzlement nor the Punjab government followed the prescribed procedure to establish the corrupt practices of anybody. The AG also made further clear that it is DCO and not Nazims who are the Drawing and Disbursing officer, thereby giving clean chit to the Nazims. In the final analysis, cutting the long story short, the case built by the Punjab government was merely based upon audit objections. One cannot take any position against some one on the basis of merely audit objections. What are the audit objections? They are irregularities committed by the officials in performing their duties. To be more precise, they are violations of rules and regulation often committed by the officials, which can also be corrected once they are raised by the AG. For example if the sanitary workers are paid their salaries without the endorsement of the elected house, it will amount to an irregularity. The AG will be bound to take notice of it, until and unless that endorsement is obtained subsequently. A scheme passed without furnishing a technical estimate could again invite the attention of the Auditors. The objection made by the AG could be cleared once that estimate is secured by the person who committed that irregularity in the first place. Once the AG cleared the haze and gave a complete picture, the Punjab government found itself clueless how to defend itself in the face of onslaught launched by its rival, especially the Punjab Governor. At a hurriedly-called Press conference, both the Khosas, including Dost Khosa who is the Local Bodies Minister and Rana Sanaullah the law minister, considered top aides of the government had little ammunition to defend themselves. They were exposed when they even did not know that it was DCO who is the Drawing and Disbursing authority and not the Nazims. "Since Nazim carry out the development we thought he is the authority" they slipped up again. No doubt Shahbaz Sharif will not be in good mood any more after the Nazims turned the tables. He must be looking for the genius behind this entire episode so embarrassing for him. It was expected that some heads would roll for misleading the Chief Minister. Recently, the Chief Minister removed a secretary for misleading him. Even an under secretary could have told the Chief Minister that it was not sufficient to proceed against someone on the basis of audit objections. The Punjab government despite moving heaven and earth is yet to unearth something against its rival to hold them accountable. Recent campaign against the Nazims is also part of similar efforts. Probably, the masterminds behind the Nazims's issue went too far to please his master. After all our political leadership takes pleasure to see their rival discredited. From the day one, the PML (N) government in the province took a very rigid and uncompromising stance against the Nazims, probably based upon some pre-conceived notion they developed during their days in exile. As soon as it came to power it sought to demolish the local body institutions. First, it sidelined the District Nazims, the linchpin in the New Local Government System, even tried to withdraw development funds from the district, but in vain. Then the government restored the office of Commissioner amid a new controversy. If that was not enough, the administrative secretaries were asked to take over the town's administration, the decision not gone well in the bureaucratic circles. The question that even ordinary folks ask us as journalists is why the PML (N) leaders did not adopt the Nazims? Why they shunned the option of winning over Nazim, including District, Town and UC Nazims. District Nazims with an army of councilors could have worked wonder for the party in days to come politically speaking. Even in governance, they could lend a very useful hand to the government with person like Shahbaz Sharif, strong disciplinarian and tough taskmaster behind their back. Some Nazims have joined the PML (N) while others were ready to follow suit but they never found positive signals from the government But it seems that PML (N) government has missed this opportunity, showing little political class and sense. The Nazims, found the government pushing them against wall, feel now more secure under the wings of Punjab Governor, ready to take on the Punjab government, including those who were initially sympathetic towards the PML (N). The new confrontation with Nazims, it seems, will further distract the Punjab government from performing its duties towards the public and so is totally uncalled for. E-mail: nadeemsyed@nation.com.pk