LAHORE: Differences between the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and its coalition partner Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) seem to have been resolved after the former managed to persuade the latter to withdraw resignation of its lone minister in Punjab and it was given another ministry in the province.
At the same time, the PML-Q has put its weight behind Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, saying it may revisit its decision to stay in the coalition if he (Buzdar) is sent home. Thus CM Buzdar, who may have less interference in running the provincial government after the arrest of powerful former senior minister Aleem Khan by the National Accountability Bureau in the income-beyond-assets case, has acquired another boost in the form of complete support of the PML-Q.
Prime Minister Imran Khan is facing pressure to send Mr Buzdar packing as the opposition and other quarters believe that he is ‘unfit’ to run the province of over 100 million.
Party threatens to revisit decision to remain in coalition if CM Buzdar is sent home
MNA Moonis Elahi, the scion of the Chaudhry family of Gujrat, remained in the forefront to take up the issues with the PTI leadership. On Friday, he held another meeting with CM Buzdar and Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar at the Governor’s House to discuss the issues the PML-Q is facing in the province.
After the meeting, PML-Q MPA Bao Rizwan took the oath as a provincial minister. He is likely to get the portfolio of environment.
Mines and Mineral Minister Hafiz Yasir Ammar, who belongs to the PML-Q, has also withdrawn his resignation, says the PML-Q.
Talking to Dawn, Moonis Elahi said most of the issues his party had with the PTI had been resolved. “We will go along with the PTI in Punjab and at the Centre. Not only this, but our party fully supports CM Buzdar and believes that he will come up to the expectations of the people of the province,” he said.
When told that after settling differences with the PTI, there were reports that the PML-Q had threatened to quit the coalition if Mr Buzdar was removed from hs office, Moonis Elahi said: “We may revisit our decision to stay in the coalition if CM Buzdar is removed. Like Prime Minister Imran Khan, we also believe that Usman Buzdar is the best choice for the CM office as he is discharging his duties to the best of his ability and is fully focused to serve the masses.”
About other issues, Moonis Elahi said Prime Minister Imran Khan had tasked his adviser Naeemul Haq with sorting out (remaining) issues with the PML-Q. “We have trust in Mr Haq and believe that he will fulfil the promises he has made on behalf of the premier,” he added.
Last month, cracks started appearing within the ruling coalition after Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry remarked about creating a forward bloc in the PML-Q. It prompted a strong reaction from the party, compelling the minister to apologise.
Subsequently, Ammar Yasir, the lone member of the PML-Q in the Punjab cabinet, handed over his resignation to the party leadership, citing “undue interference” in his ministry. PML-Q lawmakers also expressed their grievances that they were not empowered to solve the problems of the people of their constituencies. Besides, the PML-Q was often kept out of consultative process by its coalition partner, they said.
Meanwhile, Governor Sarwar administered the oath to PML-Q MPA Bao Rizwan as a provincial minister at the Governor House.
The governor said: “Consensus on working together [with the PML-Q] in Punjab and at the Centre has been achieved. All coalition partners, including the PML-Q, are on the same page. Everyone wants progress in the county.”
The people had given the PTI the mandate for five years, Mr Sarwar said and added: “We will complete our constitutional tenure.”
About his meeting with CM Buzdar and Moonis Elahi, the governor said: “All leaders agreed to solve the problems of the country as per vision of Imran Khan. The PTI government is already making all decisions by taking on board all allies and we will continue this practice in future as well.”
Published in Dawn, February 9th, 2019