The PML-N parliamentary committee on Thursday nominated Mian Shahbaz Sharif for the Punjab chief ministership. It will be his third term, following his election first in 1997, a tenure which ended when military rule was imposed in 1999, and then in 2008. When he takes oath, he will equal the record created by his elder brother, Mian Nawaz Sharif, who was thrice Punjab Chief Minister if one counts a caretaker tenure in 1988. This tenure has been given after Mian Shahbaz served a full tenure that reflected sufficient credit on his party, to earn it not just re-election, but also victory as the largest party in Parliament. In his third term, Mian Shahbaz will face a Punjab Assembly similar to that of his first, when again there will be an overwhelming PML-N majority, without any need, as in the tenure just over, for outside support.

These easy circumstances in the House reflect the hard work of both tenures and the people's confidence in Shahbaz's sincerity. It is to be assumed that, in his third term, Mian Shahbaz will keep in mind foremost the crippling loadshedding crisis, affecting Punjab more than any other province at present. As Mian Shahbaz’s brother Nawaz is about to become Prime Minister, it has only been possible to form the central government on the basis of a big enough win in Punjab. Winning sufficiently comprehensively in Punjab makes the quality of its government nationally important. As voters have shown, effort is to be rewarded and excuses are to be punished. Mian Shahbaz has worked hard, and may he continue to do so, but the important initiative now is also to develop a long-lasting system in the bureaucracy and in the channels of government, so that in the future, whether he is CM or not, basic governance functions continue to be carried out, and the debate can evolve beyond matters which require none, such as a discussion on whether measles vaccines should be imported.

Mian Shahbaz has his work cut out for him, as he attempts to bring good governance to the 80 million (and counting) people of the province. He will have to tackle the issues of law and order, health and education, not to mention electricity generation, which are provincial issues, and which are the exclusive preserve of the provincial government. The situation is dire. In Lahore, which is Mian Shahbaz’s own city, an internal police report says there have been 1178 dacoities this year so far, a figure that seems like it ought to be larger, unfortunately. While this must be controlled, so must the measles epidemic, which has taken so many lives of children so far. Mian Shahbaz is entering no bed of roses when he takes office, which he is expected to on May 31. However, he is expected both by party and people to perform at least as well as last time, and preferably do better.