PML-Q in damage control mode after Pervaiz’s assertions

Updated November 18, 2019

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Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi's statement comes hours after JUI-F chief assertion that the Q-League is no more a committed ally of the government as it had been. — DawnNewsTV/File
Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi's statement comes hours after JUI-F chief assertion that the Q-League is no more a committed ally of the government as it had been. — DawnNewsTV/File

LAHORE: In an effort to control the ‘damage’ caused by recent statements of Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and cousin Chaudhry Shujaat Husain, the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) says it is an ally of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and will remain so.

“No conspiracy theory to create differences among the allies in the government will succeed and those behind the bid will fail. We are government allies and will remain so, God willing. None can create misunderstanding (among us),” Mr Elahi, Speaker of the Punjab Assembly, said in a brief statement issued here on Sunday.

His statement comes hours after Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s assertion that the Q-League is no more a committed ally of the government as it had been before his Islamabad sit-in and that Mr Elahi had endorsed the JUI-F stance when he came as an emissary of the government during the protest.

Party is in spotlight after remarks in favour of Fazl, Nawaz

PML-Q president Chaudhry Shujaat had a day earlier stated that “naïve” advisers in the prime minister’s team were not giving Imran Khan the ‘right advice’ by urging the latter to use force for establishing the government writ during the JUI-F-led Azadi march.

The Q-League believed that the aggressive policy could have led to a clash with the protesters and made things worse for the PTI government. These inexperienced players, one of its leaders asserted, were also keeping the allies at bay from the prime minister.

Speaking at a function here, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar downplayed the “reservations” expressed by the Chaudhrys of Gujrat about the “naïve” cabinet members, saying such differences were common among allies the world over. He declared them [the Chaudhrys] as confident allies of the government.

Chaudhry Shujaat’s statement was not the only occasion that reflected of a difference of opinion among the allies.

In a TV interview the other day, Pervaiz Elahi alleged that a former head of a security agency had forced some prominent Q-Leaguers, including Jahangir Khan Tareen and Aleem Khan, to quit the party and join the Imran Khan-led PTI back in 2010.

In yet another TV appearance, he didn’t deny or clarify the comment made by the anchorperson that Mr Elahi had got stitched a sherwani [meaning that he is trying to become the chief minister of Punjab or the prime minister].

Mr Elahi, who is also former Punjab chief minister and had played a key role in winning majority for the PTI in the province during the government formation by making inroads into the opposition PML-N in 2018, emphasises that he and cousin Shujaat “have always talked with reason in view of prevailing political realities”.

Defending their role in defusing political tension during the JUI-F sit-in, he says that “our role was to prevent the clash [with the protesters]”. He adds that they had contacted Maulana Fazl during the sit-in “to save the country from political chaos and their step ultimately proved to be the right move”.

Likewise, he insists that “whatever we stated in the Nawaz Sharif case was in the interest of Prime Minister Imran Khan”.

However, observers see the soft corner of the Chaudhrys towards the Sharifs as a harbinger of jumping of the PTI government’s ship before it sinks.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement, another government ally, has also begun sharing its concerns about the future of the government and debating the benefits the MQM has so far gained in response to extending its support to the PTI’s federal government. MQM leader Khwaja Izharul Hasan feared in a media talk that the PTI government may not survive till next budget if it does not improve economic conditions of the country.

Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2019