LAHORE: Disgruntled Jahan­gir Tareen group members on Sat­ur­day reached out to PTI’s another estranged stalwart Aleem Khan in a bid to remove misunderstanding between them, a day after the latter met PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif in London.

The meeting between the two groups took place in the backdrop of Aleem Khan returning from London without meeting an ‘ailing’ Jahangir Tareen and his group members’ remarks that they will not accept Aleem Khan as a candidate for Punjab chief minister’s slot.

Tareen group’s main leaders, Saeed Akbar Niwani and Awn Chaudhry, separately called on Aleem and discussed the role of both the groups in the ruling PTI. The visiting leaders suggested that both the groups should stay engaged to give a tough time to the PTI that had maltreated senior leaders like Tareen and Aleem during its three-and-a-half-year rule in the centre and Punjab.

Sources said the Aleem group, which has yet not surfaced with its concrete numbers, was annoyed with the Tareen group over refusal to accept Aleem for CM’s candidature.

Will show strength at appropriate time, says Aleem camp

“The immediate contact by the Tareen group explains Aleem’s annoyance and his deliberate action of not meeting Tareen in London,” a source in the Aleem camp told Dawn.

Ahead of visiting Tareen’s residence on March 7, Aleem had earlier hosted a luncheon for the PTI ministers and MPAs and termed them his strength. However, several ministers and MPAs immediately denied that they would be siding with Aleem in his endeavour to get CM Usman Buzdar ousted. Aleem is yet to show his group’s numbers to make any deal with the opposition, the PTI groups or ruling party allies.

“We will show our strength at an appropriate time,” another source in the Aleem camp said.

Since the beginning of the incumbent government, Aleem has been expressing displeasure for ignoring him and picking ‘parachuter’ Buzdar as the CM. He faced wrath of PM Khan as well as National Accountability Bureau in the assets beyond means case, which he said was instituted at the behest of his ‘opponents’ within the party.

Buzdar in action

While the Tareen group has scheduled its meeting for Monday (tomorrow), CM Buzdar continued holding meetings with provincial ministers and MPAs to show party’s strength to the PM, who had assigned the task to keep all PTI MPAs intact.

According to the CM office, over 30 MPAs called on Buzdar and expressed their confidence in his leadership. The MPAs assured him that they were standing by him.

Those who called on the CM included PML-N MPA Azher Abbas Chandia, PTI MPAs Ashraf Khan Rind, Sardar Mansoor Ali Khan, Mian Alamdar Abbas Quraishi, Niaz Hussain Khan, Aun Hameed, Ghazeen Abbasi, Samiullah Ch., Nadeem Quraishi, Asif Majeed, Lateef Anzer, Sardar Farooq Amanullah Draishak, Sardar Awais Draishak, Abdul Rahman Khan, Chaudhry Adil Pervaiz Gujjar, Gulraiz Afzal Gondal, Umer Farooq, Rana Shehbaz Ahmad, Ahsan Saleem Baryar and Mian Farrukh Mumtaz Manika.

PTI leaders Saleem Baryar, Tahir Bashir Cheema and Punjab Assembly Chief Whip Syed Abbas Ali Shah were also present.

While making claims that it has brought back different ministers and MPAs, who were showing their support to either Tareen or Aleem, the government is also using arm-twisting tactics through police action against the businesses of Tareen group senior member Ajmal Cheema and reminding MPA Khurram Leghari about the cases against him.

Meanwhile, the PML-Q has become fierce as it is yet to get any acceptable offer either from the PTI or the opposition parties. It is now strongly commenting on the PTI government’s failure in resolving issues with its allies.

The PML-Q is demanding that CM Buzdar be replaced with PA Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi.

Published in Dawn, March 13th, 2022

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