It seems that Shahbaz Sharif has picked up the thread from where he left in October 1999. The start is quite auspicious and similar to what we all saw in 1997 when he became the Punjab Chief Minister for the first time, though much has changed since then. Even the officers calling shots these days right from the Chief Secretary to the lower tiers of bureaucracy have been picked from mainly the bunch of officers who served him last time. The initial thrust of the emerging administration is not very different in tone and tenor, if compared to PML (N) government last time. The Chief Secretary seems to be very particular about punctuality, discipline and cleanliness of Lahore. He is in office at 7.30 sharp and sits there till late at night, requiring others to follow suit. Already we have seen a lot grandstanding around the new Chie f Minister Secretariat which Shahbaz has promised to turn into an IT institute for the deserving girls. Last time he too harboured similar ideas about State Guest House and some other sprawling official buildings including Governor's House (if I am not wrong). Sharifs too like media hype around the initiatives taken by them. In 1997, first time in the history of the Punjab, development became a norm for the provincial government and very yardstick to judge its performance. That was a big departure from the past, and hence mesmerising for the people. Probably, it was that experience of the people with Sharifs that fetched them once again a heavy mandate in the Punjab. Massive development was carried out in those days in every area of national and provincial life. It were these days when Shahbaz Sharif established himself as an awesome administrator, a frightening prospect for all those serving under him. He was capable of moving all the wheels simultaneously. The development was done at rapid pace and through rigorous monitoring and solid checks. The people saw Shahbaz burning midnight oil in his first tenure. He was also the one who for the first time gave the people taste of good governance. After his exit, his successors tried to maintain the standards he set for which the people of city and province are quite fortunate. As such development spree continued. Pervaiz Elahi is also credited for taking many sound initiatives. Free treatment in the emergencies of the public hospitals followed by their up gradation, free education till matriculation, new ambulance services, and introduction of new traffic wardens, start of work on the first underground rail system for the city were all good initiatives to say the least. His programme of Parah Likhah Punjab conceptually was very good. But due poor monitoring and incompetent education minister it could not produce the desired results as being conceived at its onset. We also see a lot of development in this period presided over by Pervaiz Elahi. Most of what he did was in competition with the Sharifs. He wanted to loosen the hold that Sharifs had over the public imagination. The weakness of Pervaiz Elahi was this that he was too obliging and hence compromised good governance by stuffing the administration with officials incapable of delivering. As Shahbaz Sharif is back now after a break of nine years, the expectations are far greater this time, requiring of him even to set higher standards of governance and delivery to the general public. The people like to see Shahbaz fully focused, confronting the challenges head-on, instead of confronting his rivals. They want the same Shahbaz they have seen standing in knee-deep water attending to public grievances with entire administration on its toes. So far we have not seen any thing new coming from him. But then he is not fully settled as yet.  Already, he has set up a number of working groups. Let us see what ideas he picks from them and what difference they make to public life. Last week we saw full Pandora box opening. The new government allowed the journalists to visit the new Chief Minister Secretariat and see for themselves its huge car fleet in a bid to expose the Chaudhrys' lavish spending from public exchequer. Pervaiz Elahi's response was quick. He held a press conference the very next day to share with local media his nuggets. On this occasion, he also threatened to expose the Sharifs. Confrontation between the two political families, washing dirty linen in public hardly serves the purpose of political institutions that present coalition government seeks to strengthen. Shahbaz and the new coalition government need to save their energies for the public good instead of locking horns with political rivals. E-mail: