PML-Q content with PTI despite ‘unkept promises’

Published June 24, 2021
This file photo shows PML-Q leaders leaders Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Punjab Assembly Speaker Pervaiz Elahi. — AFP/File
This file photo shows PML-Q leaders leaders Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Punjab Assembly Speaker Pervaiz Elahi. — AFP/File

LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government does not seem to annoy its important ally, the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), and has addressed its reservations regarding provision of development funds for the constituencies of its MNAs.

“Federal Minister of Planning, Development & Special Initiatives Asad Umar has held a meeting with the PML-Q leadership recently and assured them of providing development funds for the constituencies of their five MNAs,” a party source told Dawn on Wednesday.

“Currently we don’t have any more issues with the PTI and we will go along with it,” he said and added although the PTI did not honour all commitments it made with it (PML-Q) while inking an agreement in 2018, yet it would remain its ally till 2023 and who knew beyond even that.

Under the agreement with the PTI, the PML-Q was to be given two ministries each in the Centre and Punjab. The PTI has yet to implement this agreement. But PML-Q says it has stopped pressing the PTI for these ministries.

PML-Q senior leader and Punjab Assembly Speaker Parvez Elahi’s recent meetings with PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif’s son Hamza Shehbaz have sparked speculations that the party of Chaudhrys of Gujrat is exploring future [alliance] partners in the backdrop of its (PML-Q) ‘uneasy’ relations with the PTI.

“Primarily Mr Elahi’s meetings with Mr Zardari and Hamza were part of a goodwill gesture,” he said and added the PML-Q’s relations with the PML-N had improved but not to the point that both parties could join hands during the PTI’s government.

“Hamza, opposition leader in the Punjab Assembly, met PA Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi for the first time in three years on the approval of the elder Sharifs and praised his efforts in the construction of new PA building and smooth functioning of the House,” a PML-N leader told Dawn.

He said animosity between the Sharifs and Chaudhrys has lessened after the latter spoke in favour of allowing former premier Nawaz Sharif to go abroad for his medical treatment and attending the funeral of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz.

“Since the PML-N leadership has decided not to bring a no-confidence motion against Chief Minister Usman Budar, it does not need PML-Q at this moment. However, who knows when new elections are announced and realignment of political players and parties is made,” he said and added such meetings helped pave the way for future alignments.

The PML-N leader said the party leadership had already had deliberations on a no-confidence move against CM Buzdar but rejected it on the ground that not enough time was left in the 2023 polls and the exercise would not help its cause of ‘civilian supremacy’. The PML-N is particular about making the establishment ‘neutral’ for the next general election as it fancies its chances to come to power in case of ‘free and fair’ contest.

A PPP leader told this reporter that since Mr Zardari had withdrawn the party candidates for the Senate polls in Punjab making it feasible for unopposed election on Mr Elahi’s request, the latter visited the former at the Bilawal House here to thank him in person. “Besides, the Chaudhrys always keep their political options open. They were once coalition partners of the PPP government (2008-13) but since then they maintained their relations with it. Even during the meeting with Mr Elahi on Tuesday, former president Zardari talked about ‘easy going’ in sorting out the issues faced by the coalition partner,” he said.

Mr Zardari has camped in Lahore primarily to woo some electables to pitch them for future polls. His party in Punjab is already facing more problems after the resignations of Qamar Zaman Kaira and Chaudhry Manzoor from the party’s central Punjab president and secretary general, respectively. The PPP top leadership has yet to find their replacement. “On the other hand, Mr Zardari has tasked one of the party’s trusted lieutenant in south Punjab to remain in contact with PTI’s disgruntled leader Jahangir Khan Tareen and persuade him to join the PPP along with his lawmakers – 29 MPAs and 10 MNAs – as PPP can be their best choice.

Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2021

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