The group of lawmakers led by estranged PTI leader Jahangir Tareen announced on Tuesday that it would only move forward on a "minus Buzdar" strategy.
The announcement was another setback for the government and came as a delegation of senior opposition lawmakers submitted a no-trust motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan with the National Assembly Secretariat.
Speaking to the media in Lahore, Punjab MPA Nauman Langrial said that Tareen was currently in London and was apprised of the current situation via video link.
"During the meeting, we gave Tareen full authority to take decisions on behalf of the group," he said, adding that different political parties had and were continuing to contact the group.
"However, I want to make it clear that all members of the group are united on the stance that we will move forward on the minus Buzdar [strategy]," he said, reiterating that they would accept the decisions taken by Tareen.
Langrial said that the group was also listening to things being said by the political parties getting in touch with them and updating Tareen about the developments.
He said that an important meeting would be held tomorrow to take decisions regarding the group's future under the current circumstances. "We will look at this evolving situation and will draft a plan."
When asked about possible candidates for the post of chief minister, the Punjab MPA asserted that the Tareen group was a "united front" and a "family".
"We know that all members of this group will accept the decisions taken by Tareen."
He also refused to comment on whether Aleem Khan — who had joined the group a day earlier — had been selected for the job, saying that the group was united under Tareen's leadership. "We told Aleem Khan sahab the same, that if you are a part of this group then you will have to follow the decisions taken by Tareen."
When pressed about PML-Q's Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi as a possible nominee, he said: "Tareen has the right to take all decisions. We will follow whatever he says."
Concluding his press conference, he asserted that this was not a "rebellion".
"We are following a certain mandate and the people have certain expectations of us. We are not only thinking about the PTI, but also about the province."
Aleem Khan joins ‘dissidents club’
Khan, a close friend of the prime minister, announced on Monday that he would be joining hands with the Tareen group, prompting a panic-stricken PM to dispatch Sindh Governor Imran Ismail to Lahore to pacify the former Punjab minister.
While presiding over the PTI’s Core Committee meeting on Monday, the PM decided to appease all disgruntled leaders of his party when Khan re-emerged after lying low for a while, with the support of over three dozen Punjab MPAs, including 10 ministers.
For the first time in the PTI’s three-and-a-half-year rule, the former Punjab senior minister assailed the Imran Khan government in the Centre and the Usman Buzdar-led Punjab government for “completely failing to fulfil its mandate and bring about the promised change”.
Aleem Khan met the Tareen group members at the latter’s residence in his absence where they discussed the political scenario, agreeing the Punjab government should be toppled to begin with. Tareen is currently in London for medical treatment and is expected to return to Pakistan soon.
“The PTI’s diehard workers were pushed aside as soon as the Imran Khan government came to power and parachuters surrounded the prime minister,” Aleem told the media after meeting the disgruntled MPAs and provincial ministers.
“Many PTI workers are still looking for answers on why loyalists, including Jahangir Tareen, were pushed away,” he said. “We (the disgruntled members) would not have regretted being sidelined if the government was working in the right direction and offering relief to the masses.”
“I have become politically active (against my own party) as my supporters in the Punjab Assembly and the disgruntled members have decided to play our role to save the party and protect people from the PTI government’s misdoings,” he said in response to a question.
“I have met 40 MPAs, including ministers, in the past four days and decided that all the loyalists should join hands and launch a struggle to save the party.”
When asked whether this joint group would support the proposed no-confidence motion of the opposition, the former minister remained non-committal and said the two (Aleem and Tareen) groups would consult each other and decide whom to support.
Both Khan and Tareen were once PM Imran's closest aides when the PTI formed the government in 2018. It was believed the two provided massive monetary assistance to the ruling party.