LAHORE: The Chaudhrys of Gujrat have politely conveyed to former president Asif Ali Zardari that they cannot become part of any “political misadventure” because of their alliance with the ruling party, and more so because of the PML-Q’s trust deficit with the PML-N leadership.

Only a day ago, the Chaudhrys — Shujat Hussain and Parvez Elahi — had claimed the defection of a major PML-N figure and businessman in Gujrat, Amjad Farooq, to their party and vowed to continue supporting the ruling party, standing with it through thick and thin.

Mr Zardari, who is also the PPP co-chairman, had paid a visit to the Lahore residence of the Chaudhrys to inquire after PML-Q president Chaudhry Shujat Hussain, who remained ill for some time and recovered a couple of weeks ago. PML-Q Punjab president and Punjab Assembly Speaker Parvez Elahi, federal ministers Moonis Elahi and Tariq Bashir Cheema, MNA Chaudhry Salik Husain, Shafay Hussain and Rukhsana Bangash were also present.

Zardari suggests Chaudhrys sever alliance with PTI

Mr Zardari remained at the Chaudhrys’ residence for almost two hours and attended a dinner hosted in his honour.

The former president and his son, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, had also met with PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif and vice president Maryam Nawaz over the weekend over lunch in Model Town and discussed options to oust the PTI government, including a no-confidence motion or a joint long march.

During his Monday visit, Mr Zardari held an exclusive meeting with Mr Hussain and Mr Elahi and discussed the prevailing political situation and matters of mutual interest. Sources said he informed the PML-Q leadership that the joint opposition wanted to launch a massive movement against the government that had failed on all fronts, including governance and controlling inflation, pushing people against the wall.

“Mr Zardari said the PPP wanted to bring a no-confidence motion against the ruling PTI in Punjab for starters and then move towards the last push to the government in the Centre. He stressed that the PML-Q sever its alliance with the government,” a source in the PPP said.

Sources told Dawn that the Chaudhrys agreed that the PML-Q had various reservations with the government, primarily over its failure to control inflation and ensure good governance in the country. They, however, said they could not become a part of any “political misadventure” against the PTI government.

The sources also said the PML-Q did not show much enthusiasm towards the proposal for ousting the government because the major opposition party, the PML-N, had never directly approached it for support. The allied party also questioned the PML-N leaders’ seriousness about a no-confidence move against the government and the numbers required in parliament to support it.

“The Chaudhrys asked Mr Zardari to provide a roadmap to contain the ongoing political mayhem and save democracy and the country,” the source said. Mr Zardari was quoted as saying that he had raised the slogan of “Pakistan khappay” (Long Live Pakistan).

The Chaudhrys agreed with the PPP co-chairman that they should keep meeting with the latter telling them he was now staying in Lahore and had already learnt Punjabi.

After the meeting, the PML-Q issued a statement, saying leaders of both the parties discussed the political situation in the country in detail as well as other issues of mutual interest. The statement added that Mr Zardari inquired about the well-being of Shujat Hussain and wished him a speedy recovery.

Published in Dawn, February 8th, 2022

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