Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), said on Thursday that Prime Minister Imran Khan was "not worried at all" about a possible no-confidence move against him by the opposition.
Pervaiz, who was speaking to the media in Lahore, made this remark in response to a reporter's question referring to a statement by his son, Water Resources Minister Moonis Elahi, regarding the opposition stepping up efforts and approaching PML-Q leaders to seek their support for tabling a no-confidence motion against the prime minister.
After Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who heads the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an anti-government alliance of opposition parties, announced on February 11 that they would be tabling a no-confidence motion against the government, multiple leaders from opposition parties have been holding meetings with PML-Q's Elahi and his brother, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain.
The PML-Q, which is an ally of the PTI government in the Centre and Punjab, has assumed much more importance since opposition parties stepped up efforts to dislodge the government through a no-trust move. In order for such a move to succeed, the opposition would require PML-Q's votes in the National Assembly.
In a notable development on this front, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif had approached Shujaat for the first time in 14 years earlier this month.
However, Prime Minister Imran Khan had said a day later that Moonis had conveyed to the PTI that "We shouldn't worry about the meetings."
The premier had said this while addressing a ceremony in Islamabad, where Moonis was also present.
When a reporter referred to the statement today and asked Pervaiz Elahi whether he had the same message for the prime minister as Moonis, he laughed and then replied: "He [PM Imran] is not worried. He is not worried at all."
Pervaiz's statement comes after PM Imran called on the PML-Q leadership on Tuesday, in a bid to ensure their support as opposition parties prepare to move a no-confidence motion against the premier.
When asked whether the much-talked-about no-trust move was discussed during the meeting, the PML-Q leader replied in the negative.
To another question about the opposition's plans of tabling the no-confidence motion, Pervaiz made a cryptic remark.
"Ingredients are in the pot and I will speak on this after smoke rises after the first boil."
Asked what would be the outcome of the no-confidence motion, he said, "Such a large pot is on the stove. Something will come out of it."
When a reporter asked him to share his views on a statement issued by PDM spokesperson Hafiz Hamdullah that quoted Fazl as saying that the opposition would submit the no-confidence motion in the next 48 hours, Pervaiz said only the PDM president could speak on the matter.
He also appreciated the government's decision to reduce petrol and electricity prices as part of a series of relief measures amid rising inflation in the country.
The Chaudhrys’ residence has been a hub of political activities over the last month or so, hosting opposition leaders, from PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif and PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari to Fazl, all of whom hoped to win over the government ally for a possible no-trust move.
However, the most recent visit to the Chaudhrys was not by an opposition leader but PM Imran and a group of federal ministers.
According to a Dawn report, Shujaat had reportedly told the prime minister during the visit that “Shehbaz Sharif came to inquire after my health a few days ago and offered the chief ministership [of Punjab] to Pervaiz Elahi [in exchange for voting against Imran Khan]."
“However, we know them well and do not trust them. He had offered us the same slot [in the 90s], but backed off after winning the elections. The excuse was that his father did not agree to the proposal," the report quoted him as saying. "Although he has offered it again, we don’t trust (him) and continue to stand by the government," the report quoted Shujaat as saying.
Moonis, who was also present on the occasion, again met PM Imran and Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar today.
The PML-Q leader shared a video of the meeting on his Twitter, saying: "For generations, our family has always honoured commitments. Met Imran Khan sahib with Asad Umar sahib. [We] agreed on working together for Pakistan’s betterment."