LAHORE: The Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), an important ally of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led coalition government, has finally got a second ministry in the Centre under the agreement both parties had at the time of 2018 general elections.
Moonis Elahi, the scion of the Chaudhry family of Gujrat, was inducted into the cabinet as federal minister for water resources.
Before him, Minister for Housing and Works Tariq Bashir Cheema was the only PML-Q leader serving in the federal cabinet.
The development came nearly a week after a delegation of PML-Q leaders including Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi and Mr Moonis met Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad.
“Yes, Moonis Elahi has been made federal minister for water resources today,” Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chauhdry confirmed to Dawn on Tuesday.
Moonis Elahi given portfolio of water resources
The PTI’s relations with its coalition partner, PML-Q, had been tense after the prime minister’s refusal to take Mr Moonis in his cabinet and suggestion to the latter to name any other MNA from the (Chaudhry) family.
PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain had then told the premier that his party was not interested in the second federal ministry if it was not given to Mr Moonis.
“The Chaudhrys were under the impression that someone close to the premier had poisoned his mind against Moonis,” disclosed a party insider while talking to Dawn.
About how PM Khan changed his mind to take Mr Moonis in his cabinet, the insider said: “PM Khan had been impressed by the conduct of the Chaudhrys in the last Senate elections in Punjab, where Parvez Elahi evolved a consensus between the ruling PTI and opposition PML-N and PPP in the Punjab Assembly and got the senators elected unopposed. Besides, standing with the government at its difficult times — the premier’s vote of confidence and passage of the federal budget — has also helped in removing any misunderstandings between Mr Khan and the Chaudhrys,” he said.
A senior PTI leader from Punjab told Dawn that last month the government had committed to giving a second ministry to its ally (PML-Q) after it had boycotted the premier’s reception (ahead of the federal budget). “The government has now fulfilled its promise,” he said.
Earlier, the PML-Q had warned that it might review its alliance with the PTI if its “legitimate demands” were not met. The demands were related to the share in the administration in the constituencies where its (PML-Q) lawmakers had won, and empowerment of its ministers and implementation of the agreement inked by both parties before the 2018 elections.
In November, PM Khan had visited the Chaudhrys at their Lahore residence that helped thaw the relations between them, as the prime minister has never paid any personal visit to any other ally after assuming office.
The PML-Q has five seats in the National Assembly and 10 in the Punjab Assembly.
Mr Moonis has remained in the forefront to take up the party issues with the PTI leadership. He is a strong advocate of construction of Kalabagh Dam and after getting the water resources ministry it remains to be seen how he utilises his office for the causes he feels so strongly about.
The portfolio of federal minister for water resources had been lying vacant after PTI’s Faisal Vawda (ex-minister for water resources) resigned from the National Assembly seat in connection with his dual nationality case and became a senator.
Syed Irfan Raza from Islamabad also contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, July 14th, 2021