ISLAMABAD: The day when the opposition took a step forward in a bid to topple the government and reportedly prepared a draft no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan, the premier met federal Minister for Water Resources Moonis Elahi, who is the parliamentary leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) — a major coalition partner.

The meeting took place three days after the prime minister visited Lahore and held a detailed meeting with PML-Q leaders.

The prime minister held the two meetings with the PML-Q leadership after the opposition claimed that it enjoyed majority in the National Assembly as some allies of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) had assured it of support when no-confidence motion would be tabled in the lower house of parliament.

Interestingly, there was no official announcement about the prime minister’s meeting with Moonis Elahi. However, sources in the PM House confirmed the huddle.

The sources said Moonis Elahi reassured the prime minister about the support of his party which had five members in the National Assembly.

When contacted, a federal cabinet member who did not want to be named told Dawn that Moonis Elahi met the prime minister with Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar.

Some media reports suggested that the prime minister had offered the slot of senior minister to Moonis. However, the cabinet member ruled out such a possibility and said PM Khan might have promised some development funds and seat adjustment for the next elections. He said the prime minister had assigned Asad Umar to keep a close contact with the PML-Q and ensure fulfilment of PML-Q’s demands.

Later, talking to the media in Lahore, Chaudhry Pervez Elahi said PM Khan was “not worried at all” about a possible no-confidence move against him by the opposition. He made the remarks in response to a reporter’s question referring to a statement by his son Moonis regarding the opposition stepping up efforts and approaching the PML-Q leaders to seek their support for the no-confidence motion against the prime minister.

Asked if the issue of no-trust move was discussed during the meeting, Mr Elahi replied in the negative. In reply another question about the opposition’s plan to table the no-confidence motion, he made a cryptic remark, saying, “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.”

The Chaudhrys’ residence has been a hub of political activities for the last month or so, hosting opposition leaders — including PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif, PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman. All of them hoped to win over the government ally on 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.

Published in Dawn, March 4th, 2022

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