by Adnan Rasool
In all my time studying politics in Pakistan and being a part of it, the one thing I have been told by politicians from across party lines is that all said and done, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain is the personification of what a politician is.
He is mild-mannered, shrewd, a pragmatist and understands the powers-that-be better than anyone else.
That being said, it is unfair to call the Pakistan Muslim League - Quaid (PML-Q) a party now because, at this stage, it is mostly a friends-and-family plan.
But even in that form, it is still good for a couple of national assembly and a handful of provincial assembly seats.
They have no real agenda other than to protect their influence in Gujrat and a few other, smaller domains in Punjab. Those seats are going to be crucial for anyone forming the next government.
In a scenario where we may be heading towards a hung parliament and most probably a no-name prime ministerial candidate popping up at the last moment, people like Chaudhry Shujaat are the backroom deal makers who will yield disproportionate power.
A former Nawaz ally who then became Musharraf’s right hand man for politics and later on allied with the PPP-led government in 2008, Shujaat has this time around cut a deal with PTI on seat adjustment. The two parties say they had decided to join hands in order to get rid of “the corrupt mafia”, an apparent reference to PML-N.
Days before the verdict that disqualified Nawaz Sharif in July 2017, Shujaat, spurred on by rumours of divisions within PML-N, invited all factions of the Muslim League to unite under his leadership so that they could force Nawaz to resign. However, Nawaz stepped down following the court’s ruling and Shujaat failed to unite PML factions.
Later on, in 2018, Shujaat's party secured the position of chief minister after PML-N Sanaullah Zehri stepped down.
Recently, his autobiography hit the stores, in which he says that Musharraf and Tariq Aziz made a plan to ensure PML-Q’s defeat in the 2008 elections after striking a deal with PPP.
Shujaat has historically supported the construction of the controversial Kalabagh dam project, saying it had become imperative for the country. “The future of our coming generations depends upon these projects and hence instead of opposing these and hurling threats to blow them up we should join hands for the completion of these projects.”
The PML-Q has also supported the idea of an independent Kashmir, with Jammu given to India and Azad Kashmir to Pakistan, creating an independent state in the main valley. "This is the best resolution of the dispute provided China agrees to it," he said in 2002.
In late 2014, Shujaat also has presented himself for accountability and a trial under Article 6 of the constitution for having supported Musharraf’s decision to proclaim emergency on Nov 3, 2007.
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