LAHORE: Former Special Assistant to Chief Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan on Wednesday spoke her heart out over the humiliating episode of being denied entry to the Punjab Assembly and called its custodian Chaudhry Parvez Elahi out.

She claimed that “deep differences have surfaced between the coalition partners – the PTI and the PML-Q.”

Dr Awan who was asked to resign from her office as chief minister’s aide a few days ago, alleged that Mr Elahi took various steps to humiliate her as she was able to take PML-Q vice-president Saleem Baryar’s brother and son to the PTI fold and had Ahsan Baryar elected from PP-38 (Sialkot) owing to her personal goodwill in the constituency. She said the PP-38 constituency fell in her constituency where she had been actively working for the past three years despite losing the general election.

Says gulf between coalition partners is widening

She also accused Mr Elahi of stealthily having the Punjab Assembly Privileges Bill passed after it was introduced as a Private Member Bill. She said the journalists’ community had strongly protested against the bill and she too criticised it, for it was not a government’s bill. She said a message was conveyed to her later (on behalf of Speaker Parvez Elahi) that the House was not bound to seek her permission to pass any legislation.

“All these episodes one after another suggest that the cracks are getting deeper in the political ties between the PTI and the PML-Q,” Dr Awan said.

PML-Q Senator Kamil Ali Agha, however, rebuffed Dr Awan’s allegations stating that she was speaking out of frustration after losing her job in Punjab. He said the fact was that Baryar’s complaint led to her ouster from Punjab’s information minister’s slot. He said there were rumours in Sialkot that she had taken a lot of money from Saleem Baryar to campaign for the election.

He said the PML-Q did not want to indulge in any kind of allegations and counter-allegations and added that the PML-Q actually stayed in contact with Prime Minister Imran Khan to express reservations. Now, he said, almost all reservations had been sorted out and the PTI was holding day-to-day consultation with the PML-Q and taking policy decisions after developing consensus.

“Dr Awan perhaps wants that the PML-Q should issue statements against her so that she could exert her importance in her party,” Mr Agha said.

Mr Agha said she (Firdous Awan) had nothing to do with the victory of Baryar who was a son-in-law of principal secretary to the chief minister Tahir Khurshid.

Former SACM Dr Firdous said PM Khan and party’s chief organiser Saifullah Niazi had convinced her to go to Punjab – a PTI’s battleground – to defeat party’s opponents who were anchored in the province for many decades.

“If my captain will want to place me at some front, I will happily play my role as a party worker and an active player of the PTI team,” she said.

Dr Awan, however, said CM Usman Buzdar was naive for failing to blow trumpet of his good works done for the welfare of people in Punjab.

“Those who do not blow their trumpet in politics don’t get due space on TV screens,” she said and added that five information ministers had been replaced in Punjab during the last three years and hoped that the next information minister would complete innings till the conclusion of this government’s tenure in 2023.

Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2021



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