LAHORE: In a rare move, Punjab Assembly Speaker and senior leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi called on former president Asif Ali Zardari here on Tuesday.
A press release issued after the meeting said both sides discussed matters of mutual interest and national political scene without giving any more details.
However, insiders said the two sides agreed to meet again shortly over a dinner to be attended by PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat too. They claimed that the reestablished contacts between the two former allies, which ruled the country from 2008 to 2013, are aimed at forming a future alliance along with the Awami National Party, a third ally of the past coalition government, besides other nationalist parties.
A close aide to the Chaudhrys of Gujrat confided to Dawn that some quarters were seeing snap polls by the year-end and the meeting should be taken in the context of exploring possibilities of political cooperation in that scenario. He claimed that Prime Minister Imran Khan cancelled his scheduled UK visit knowing the political storms in the making, both within his Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and in the ruling coalition.
The PML-Q is presently an ally of the PTI in Punjab and relations between the two parties have been seeing ups and downs for quite some time as the former complains that the latter has been ignoring, or refusing, to accept its certain demands.
Though officially Pervaiz Elahi denies any differences with the PTI, his son Moonis Elahi leaves no chance to criticise various policies of the government in publicly, particularly on social media.
In another move, Asif Zardari, who is also co-chairperson of the Pakistan Peoples Party, has summoned party’s chief organiser in Punjab Raja Pervez Ashraf to Bilawal House in Lahore.
A PPP leader, who requested not to be named, said Mr Zardari had taken on to himself the task of bargaining for a future alliance strong enough to form the next government, directing his son and PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari to look after other matters for the time being. The source said Mr Ashraf would be carrying a list of electables, many of whom had abandoned the party after 2013 but are now ready to return to the PPP fold.
The source said some of these electables might not immediately join the party and would contest the elections as independents, but embrace the PPP after the electoral bout.
Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi had also met PML-N leader Hamza Shehbaz before the budget session after Shehbaz Sharif was released on bail, apparently in a move to resolve the issue of house standing committees.
Against the will of the government, Mr Elahi had been issuing production orders for Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz, who had been in NAB custody in connection with some corruption cases.
The PML-N and PPP have been demanding that the opposition leader be made chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of the Punjab Assembly, like in the National Assembly, refusing to become part of the standing committees until the demand is accepted.
Published in Dawn, July 23rd, 2021