GUJRAT: The Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), an ally of ruling Pakistan Tehreek Insaaf (PTI), continues to stretch its wings in areas other than its strongholds in Punjab by luring electables as a three times former MNA from Hafizabad Liaqat Abbas Bhatti has joined the party.
Mr. Bhatti met acting Punjab governor and PML-Q leader Chaudhry Pervez Elahi in Lahore on Thursday to make a formal announcement.
Talking to Dawn by phone, Liaqat Bhatti said that he had joined the PML-Q because it was the party that could adjust itself in every situation. “It has remained an important part and parcel of power politics in Punjab and centre and even in future politics it will be a part of any next setup in the provincial and federal governments.”
He said the PTI government had failed to deliver according to expectations of the public whereas the PML-Q had delivered very well when in power and also knew ground realities of power politics unlike the PTI.
Says party knows power politics, will be part of next set-up as well
Answering a question, he said the local bodies elections were nowhere in sight due to various reasons and his joining was aimed at preparing for the next general elections. He expected more inductions from his local political group in Hafizabad.
He was elected as MNA from the PML-Q platform in 2002 and 2008. In 2013, he was elected as an independent however his seat was declared vacant by the Elections Commission a few months after the election and the subsequent by-poll was won by PML-N’s Mian Shahid Bhatti.
In 2018, Mr. Bhatti parted ways with the political group of his brother ex-MNA Mehdi Hassan Bhatti and contested the last general elections as a candidate of TLP against his own nephew Shaukat Ali Bhatti who won as a PTI nominee on the lone NA seat of Hafizabad where PML-N’s Saira Afzal Tarrar was the runners up and Liaqat Bhatti stood third.
The fresh move of party to lure former lawmakers and even some close kin of the incumbent legislators of PTI have created an impression that the PML-Q was flexing its muscles for the next general elections by strengthening its position in several other districts of Punjab.
In the 2018 elections, the part bagged four NA and eight PA seats only from Gujrat, Mandi Bahaudin, Chakwal, Bahawalpur and Daska (Sialkot) districts.
However, a former federal minister Mushtaq Cheema and at least three ex-MPAs from Faisalabad and former MNA Tanzeela Aamir Cheema, the spouse of PTI MNA Aamir Sultan Cheema and mother of a PTI MPA from Sargodha, had announced joining the PML-Q a couple of weeks ago.
As per the power sharing formula between the coalition partners, the PML-Q has been given a complete say in the administrative and transfer/posting affairs of three districts and as many tehsils of Punjab, including Gujrat, Bahawalpur and Chakwal and Phalia-Malakwal tehsils of Mandi Bahauddin and Daska tehsil of Sialkot.
However, with joining of electables from Sargodha, Faisalabad and Hafizabad districts, the PML-Q may demand some share in the uplift and administrative affairs of these districts.
Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2020