LAHORE: Claiming that the allies of Prime Minister Imran Khan had a ‘big surprise’ in store, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Friday said Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, would become the chief minister of the province shortly.

“Chaudhry Parvez Elahi’s sherwani (the dress traditionally worn by politicians on formal occassions) is ready. He will soon take oath as the Punjab chief minister. Just wait for the final announcement,” said Punjab PPP general secretary Syed Hassan Murtaza while addressing a press conference.

Interestingly, only a couple of days ago senior Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had stated that the position of chief minister could not be given to Mr Elahi.

The contradictory claims have come at a time when Mr Elahi along with his son and federal minister Moonis Elahi have already assured Prime Minister Imran Khan in their separate meetings that the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) would continue to be part of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led ruling coalition in the wake of the no-confidence being tabled by the opposition parties.

Buzdar confident opposition’s move will fail

However, the PPP secretary general in the province said contrary to the claims being made by each side that Mr Elahi would support them, PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari would make the final announcement. “The government’s allies are in contact with the PPP. The ruling PTI will soon be dented, as those claiming the government as theirs will not be with it.”

Mr Murtaza said the future of Imran Khan was bleak, with his allies ready to give him ‘a big surprise’. The PTI was not a party, but a group of people who had gathered for their personal interests, he claimed.

When PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari would enter central Punjab, the real countdown of this ‘selected’ government would start, he said. He also dared Mr Khan to come into public space without protocol to know his ‘real popularity’ among the people of Punjab.

He said the PPP had informed the district administration about the Nasser Bagh gathering this Sunday when Bilawal-led long march would arrive. The administration had been requested to provide security for the event, he said before leaving for Chichawatni to join the long march there.

Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, however, sounded confident about the failure of no-confidence move of the opposition when he said the government would complete its constitutional term.

He said the government had a visible majority in the number game, asserting that the opposition was making futile efforts. The no-confidence move would not succeed even if all the opposition parties became united, CM Buzdar said, adding that the opposition alliance should not boast about no-trust when its member parties had expressed ‘distrust’ of their moves. He said the government was not threatened by the opposition parties.

Regrettably, he said, the opposition had negated the national interests. “Opposition’s political ploys have already remained unsuccessful and it will also face defeat in future,” he added.

Published in Dawn, March 5th, 2022

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