PML-Q president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain chairing a meeting of the party on Sunday.
PML-Q president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain chairing a meeting of the party on Sunday.

LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain declared on Sunday that his party would not hold talks with the new committee constituted by Prime Minister Imran Khan to address reservations of disgruntled government allies till “all points agreed” with the Jahangir Tareen-led panel were implemented in letter and spirit.

On the other hand, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar expressed the hope that the PML-Q would remain a coalition partner and said the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) wanted to go into local bodies polls and next general elections along with it (PML-Q).

The gulf between the ruling PTI and its coalition partners widened after PM Khan stopped his confidant Jahangir Tareen from further holding talks with the PML-Q and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement reportedly on complaints from some PTI leaders that he was more inclined to protect the interest of the alienated partners than the government’s.

“Perhaps for the first time PM Khan listened to complaints against Mr Tareen on any issue and decided in favour of complainants without hearing the view point of his close friend,” an insider in the PTI told Dawn.

“PM Khan was told by some party leaders in Punjab that Mr Tareen had accepted most of the PML-Q’s demands and issued directives like a chief minister to implement them forthwith. The opponents of the Chaudhrys in the PTI camp managed to convince the premier that it was not in the party’s interest to be ‘so generous’ in giving in to the demands of the PML-Q straightaway. Since the Chaudhrys are smart politicians, the PTI should also play smart in dealing with them and linger on such matters,” he said.

Punjab governor sees no threat to alliance; PML-N predicts Q-League’s exit from coalition

Imran Khan was easily persuaded because of his “own distrust” in the allies, the PTI leader said. Similarly, he said, Mr Tareen’s style of offering “much” to the MQM was also not liked by some PTI leaders in Sindh after which PM Khan dissolved the panel headed by Mr Tareen and formed new committees to hold talks with the allies.

Mr Tareen is in London and could not be reached by Dawn for comments.

Last week PM Khan abruptly dissolved Tareen-led committee also comprising Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak that had been holding parleys with the PML-Q and the MQM for quite sometimes to placate their concerns.

The premier gave mandate to Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood to hold ‘fresh talks’ with the PML-Q and named Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, Opposition Leader in Sindh Assembly Firdaus Shamim Naqvi and MPA Haleem Adil Sheikh to hold a meeting with the MQM to listen to their grievances.

Tareen-led committee had agreed to empower the PML-Q’s ministers — two in Punjab and one at the Centre — besides giving the party a share in administrative powers in three districts — Gujrat, Chakwal and Bahawalpur — and as many tehsils — Malikwal, Phalia and Daska. The committee had also assured the PML-Q that it would talk to the PM about giving another federal ministry to the party, a point already agreed upon.

PML-Q meeting

Presiding over the party’s urgently called meeting here on Sunday to discuss the future of the coalition, Chaudhry Shujaat made it clear that there would be no talks with the government before it implemented “settled matters”.

The meeting was attended by Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, MNAs Moonis Elahi and Hussain Elahi, former senator Kamil Ali Agha and others.

According to PML-Q, all participants agreed that the PTI leadership should be told that when political matters were settled, frequent changes created mistrust. “We had a written agreement with the PTI prior to the 2018 general elections which has not been implemented so far. After forming the government a negotiation team was constituted but no decision of it was implemented either. After matters were settled with the second committee (led by Tareen) it was dissolved and yet another committee has been formed,” the PML-Q chief said.

He said: “A few ministers and notable leaders of the PTI are creating misunderstandings between us and the prime minister. Talking to reporters here, Punjab Governor Sarwar said the Chaudhry brothers rightly said that end of the coalition would be equally harmful for the PTI and the Q-League.

He said the PML-Q, MQM, Balochistan Awami Party and other allies were with the government and none of them was talking of toppling it.

The new committee would soon make a formal contact with PML-Q leadership and its reservations would be removed, the governor said, adding the PTI-PML-Q alliance was not in danger.

PML-N sees fissures in coalition

PML-N Punjab information secretary Azma Bokhari said it was written on the wall that the PTI could not go along with its allies for a longer period. “Time is not far away when the PML-Q will have to quit the alliance with the PTI because of their growing distrust in each other,” she said while talking to Dawn.

She said the PML-N wanted PML-Q to decide its future with the PTI soon. “Once it (PML-Q) comes out of the coalition, we will show our cards.”

Another PML-N leader said the PTI was feeling insecure as it feared the PML-Q it might join hands with the N-League in coming months. “There are many PTI MPAs in Punjab who are in contact with Parvez Elahi and the PML-N and the PTI is wary of this,” he said, adding the PML-N leadership was in contact with the Q-League and trying to iron out past differences with it.

Published in Dawn, February 3rd, 2020

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