LAHORE: Only a day after he made his reservations with Prime Minister Imran Khan clear, PML-Q senior leader Chaudhry Parvez Elahi exten­ded an olive branch to the government on Wednesday, with whom the party is an ally in the Centre and Punjab.

In the same breath, Elahi also reiterated this was not the time for government officials to threaten opposition and allied parties’ lawmakers over the no-trust move. “We are allies and an independent party. There are different views among parties, but decisions are taken through mutual consultation,” stated the PML-Q Punjab president in a statement issued here on Wednesday.

After apparently wrapping up a series of hectic consultations in the capital, Punjab Assembly Speaker Elahi returned to Lahore and extended his support to the government at a crucial time when the joint opposition’s no-confidence motion is scheduled to be tabled in the National Assembly on March 28 and it is reaching out to ruling party lawmakers and allies for support.

The next round of heated political activity is set to resume in the capital from Monday.

Khattak rubbishes reports he asked PML-Q to join hands with Nawaz league

In the statement, Mr Elahi went on to call Prime Minister Khan an “honest” man who had good intentions. “We have neither left the government nor joined the opposition,” he attempted to clarify to defuse the tension between the government and the PML-Q.

He further said his party had been pointing out problems of the people from day one and added that it was in the government’s interest to consult its allies.

In an interview aired on Hum News on Tuesday night, Mr Elahi said the PTI had not fulfilled its commitments made with his party. “They are old enough now... they are not children anymore. They should at least rectify their track record or people will not trust them,” he had said.

“A child will learn to walk only when you put him down,” he said metaphorically and asked, “Will you keep on changing nappies all his life?”

He also claimed that all three allies of the PTI government – the PML-Q, MQM-P and BAP -- were on the same page and had decided after a series of meetings to take steps jointly in the current political turmoil.

He also told the interviewer the Jehangir Tareen group had the support of a large number of MNAs and MPAs whose main objective was to dislodge Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar.

Khattak’s snide remark about PML-Q

The ruling party reportedly generated yet another controversy for itself when Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak told the PML-Q to join hands with the PML-N if the opposition party had offered Mr Elahi the Punjab chief minister’s slot. “It is tantamount to blackmailing when a party with five seats demands the chief ministership of the country’s largest province,” he is reported to have said.

However, as soon as PML-Q’s federal minister Moonis Elahi sought an explanation through a tweet, Mr Khattak retracted and tweeted in return, “I have not issued any statement to the media against PML-Q or Parvez Elahi. I am in contact with all our allies on a daily basis.”

Moonis responded with a “thank you!”

Meanwhile, banners were seen hoisted in Lahore that read, “Punjab ki majboori hai – Chaudhry Parvez Elahi wazir-i-aala zaroori hai” (It is a compulsion for Punjab that Mr Elahi is the Punjab chief minister).

When asked about the banners, Mr Elahi said he got them removed within 10 minutes after they were hoisted, and dodged a question about who may have put them up.

Published in Dawn, March 17th, 2022

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