GUJRAT: The PML-Q is ready to mend fences with the PTI, its senior partner in the coalition governments at federal and provincial level; however, it has not yet received any positive response from the party.
A source in the Chaudhrys’ party has revealed that Prime Minister Imran Khan is giving a cold shoulder to the PML-Q leaders and he was not willing to meet them during his visit to the provincial capital last Friday.
Another source says that there is a proposal for law minister Raja Basharat replacing Chief Minister Usman Buzdar in Punjab, which may help melt the ice between both the coalition parties.
Talking to Dawn on condition of anonymity, a PML-Q lawmaker says that most of his party’s former and incumbent lawmakers in national and Punjab assemblies as well as the party officials have advised the senior leadership to review the current tense relationship with the PTI.
Sources say efforts were made for a meeting with PM on Friday last
“During the consultation with the party president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, some party lawmakers and officials have been of the opinion that if the PML-Q wants to continue the coalition government, it should come out of the current situation through negotiations with the PTI,” he says and adds that the party is already in the mood of mending fences with the PTI but Prime Minister Imran Khan is not paying any heed towards the genuine concerns of the PML-Q.
A PTI lawmaker says efforts have been made by some senior functionaries in the Punjab government to arrange a meeting between PM Khan and the PML-Q leaders during the former’s visit to Lahore on Friday last but it could not happen due to his unwillingness.
He says the PM is reportedly annoyed with Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi for issuing the production orders of some opposition lawmakers in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on corruption charges and absence of PML-Q lawmakers from the dinner hosted by the PM himself during the budget session of the parliament in June.
On the other hand, some video recordings and media statements issued by the Pervaiz Elahi are also said to be against the policies of the PTI government, which also offended some senior members of the ruling party, says the lawmaker.
Another source thinks that the PML-Q is also considered as a major hurdle to the possible change of Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar as the PTI leadership is seriously considering various options to replace the CM. He claims that ice has started melting between the coalition partners over the matter of change of the CM and the name of Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat has been proposed by some relevant quarters.
Mr Basharat, a PTI MPA from Rawalpindi, has close relations with the Chaudhrys of Gujrat as he was in their party before joining the PTI.
The source says Basharat’s name has been proposed to both the coalition partners as possible replacement in Punjab and the PML-Q reportedly has not shown any reservations about his name but its senior partner is yet to decide on it.
However, when approached by this scribe, a PML-Q leader denies being consulted on the possible replacement for the CM by any quarter yet and says that speaking on the topic has already damaged his party interests. But he has confirmed the reports of the party’s wish to mend fences with the PTI despite the moves by NAB against its senior leaders.
Responding to another question, he says now the Chaudhrys feel that NAB has become a part of their life and politics as whether they were in opposition or in the government, the bureau continues to haunt them without having any proof or evidence against them.
As far as the matter of expressing opinion different from the PTI policies, he says the PML-Q is a separate political entity having its own views on various issues of national importance.
The PTI and PML-Q have a history of troubled relations and frequent statements by the latter’s leaders have hinted at the fissures between both the parties. In November last year, Pervaiz Elahi had alleged that a former head of a security agency had forced some prominent leaders of his party, including Jahangir Tareen and Aleem Khan, to quit the PML-Q and join the PTI in 2010.
Last month, before the Lahore High Court, NAB accused the PML-Q leaders, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Pervaiz Elahi, of money laundering and accumulating illegal assets while the Chaudhrys have moved the court against NAB inquiries.
Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2020