LAHORE: Hours after the PML-Nawaz-led opposition submitted a no-confidence motion in the provincial assembly against Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, the ruling PTI unleashed what appeared to be the long-promised ‘trump card’ by nominating PML-Q leader Parvez Elahi as its candidate for the provincial chief executive’s slot.
Sources say PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz is being blamed for the party losing out on the potential support of the ruling coalition’s important ally, the PML-Q. A poor offer to the Chaudhrys is said to be the main reason for the allies not backing the opposition in its efforts to oust Prime Minister Imran Khan through a no-confidence motion.
“Nawaz Sharif and his daughter are being blamed by some leaders in the PPP and PML-N for not showing flexibility in conceding the PML-Q’s demands,” a senior leader in the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), who was part of the parleys with the PML-Q, told Dawn on Monday.
Insiders say PPP, some ‘N’ leaders unhappy over Maryam’s ‘inflexibility’ in talks with ‘Q’ league
“The PML-Q leadership wanted the chief minister’s slot for the remaining term (of the incumbent assemblies), and up to 20 seats in the next term. The PPP top leadership — Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari — agreed to these demands, but the elder Sharif and Maryam were not ready to budge,” the leader disclosed, adding that the father-daughter duo had conveyed to the Chaudhrys that Mr Elahi could be considered for Punjab’s top position only for an interim period of three to five months, after sending the PTI government home.
There was no final understanding between them on seat adjustment for the next polls.
Mr Zardari is reportedly upset with the Sharifs for not agreeing to a more lucrative offer to the Chaudhrys, which eventually resulted in the PML-Q announcing its support for PM Khan, who offered what his allies wanted.
Another opposition leader said the huge trust deficit between the Sharifs and the Chaudhrys could not be bridged despite vigorous efforts by PPP co-chairman Zardari.
A PML-N insider said the party leadership was also concerned about Mr Elahi’s “political manoeuvering”. “There is a growing concern among the top leadership that if Mr Elahi is given the chief minister’s position he will consolidate his party at the cost of the PML-N,” he said.
Meanwhile, Yousuf Raza Gilani told Dawn that the joint opposition had not lost hope with the Chaudhrys and was still engaged in parleys with them. “We have the required numbers to oust the prime minister, yet we want the government allies to support the no-trust motion against the premier. We are hopeful that the PML-Q leadership will eventually join us,” he maintained.
PML-N Punjab information secretary Azma Bokhari also said the opposition was still in contact with the Chaudhrys and that they could review their decision about backing the prime minister.
Meanwhile, reports of a rift among the Chaudhrys are emerging over a decision to remain part of the coalition, as Mr Shujaat wants to shake hands with the PML-N, but Mr Elahi sees the PTI as a better option owing to the CM offer.
Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2022