GUJRAT: Local ranks and file of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) are confused over apparent division among senior leadership as they want clarity “who to follow and who to not”.wwThis situation emerged after the party clearly split into two groups as secretary general Tariq Bashir Cheema and MNA Salik Hussain, the scion of party chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, joined Shehbaz-led federal government whereas Chaudhry Parvez Elahi and three party MNAs firmly stand with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf.
But some insiders insist the party is united under Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Parvez Elahi and issues, if any, will be settled by the next general elections.
A former union council chairman of the PML-Q in Gujrat told Dawn that the local party workers were confused over the situation as one group was with the PML-N and other with the PTI.
Another party official said since political affairs in Gujrat were largely addressed by Moonis Elahi and his cousin, MNA Hussain Elahi, who won two NA constituencies of Gujrat tehsil, it is obvious that they will lead the party and take care of their commitment with the PTI.
Adding, he said Chaudhry Salik Hussain was elected as MNA from Chakwal so he might not be interested in Gujrat affairs but his elder brother Chaudhry Shafay Hussain is interested in contesting election from Gujrat city as he has been busy in lobbying for the last few months.
“This may cause some disturbance in future if the leadership does not resolve it timely.”
As per sources, the Q’s group siding with the PTI claims to have opted for the popular politics first time in the history of party whereas those siding with the incumbent government say they have honoured the commitment made by the party leadership with former president Asif Ali Zardari, Shehbaz Sharif and Maulana Fazlur Rehman by voting in favour of the coalition government.
Another PML-Q source says the apparent division actually reflects some sort of rift among the scions of Shujaat and Parvez over choosing the PML-N or the PTI as a future political partner. Moreover, the dominant role of Moonis in the party policies has been a cause of concern for some elements within the family.
Moonis spent a couple of busy days in Gujrat recently and held several meetings with his supporters and workers whereas he chaired a consultative meeting of party workers from the city area at Zahoor Elahi House on Sunday night.
A senior party leader seeking anonymity says the group siding with the PTI has no objection to party chief’s decision to get a ministerial slot for his son, Salik Hussain.
He says a majority of party lawmakers in the NA as well as the Punjab Assembly have opted to go with popular politics by continuing to support the PTI but that does not mean that the PML-Q will ever go against the establishment.
According to him, Moonis has also advised the PTI leadership to avoid anti-establishment rhetoric in public gatherings as it may dent party’s efforts to return to power after next polls. Responding to another question, he said a fresh survey conducted by the party in the constituencies of Moonis and Hussain Elahi in Gujrat as well as in the areas of some other party lawmakers had endorsed the decision to go with the PTI.
Asked if there was any chance of confrontation between the party groups or a cousin versus cousin in the coming general elections, he said such a situation would be averted as it could be disastrous.
Some analysts say the inclusion of Salik Hussain in the PML-N-led government may pay dividends to the Q at the end of the day as staying relevant in power corridors was the ground reality of Pakistan politics.
Mian Imran Masood, Punjab PML Q’s information secretary who has been associated with the Chaudhrys for the last 32 years, insists the party is united under the leadership of Shujaat and Parvez and the current nature of differences may not last long.
He says the party has formally nominated MNA Hussain Elahi for the slot of opposition leader in NA.
The PML-Q has five members in NA -- Moonis Elahi, son of Parvez Elahi, Salik Hussain, son of Shujaat Hussain and Hussain Elahi, son of Wajahat Hussain, whereas Tariq Bashir Cheema and Farrah Khan are not related to the family.
Former Gujrat district nazim Shafaat Hussain, the younger brother of Shujaat, has been sidelined in the local political affairs of the party due to his differences with the leadership’s decisions during the local bodies elections in 2015-16.
Since most of his grievances are against Parvez Elahi’s policies, party insiders apprehend that Shafaat Hussain can create troubles for the Q leadership.
Sources say he has been quietly making some moves through background contacts in the PML-N.
Analysts believe keeping in view the history of Chaudhrys politics, the PML-Q may be able to mend fences within its ranks. For that the role of Chaudhry Wajahat Hussain can be vital in resolving differences as he has cordial relations with all family members. Tracing the major cause of differences, an analyst says aspirants for electoral politics from the Chaudhry family have increased in third generation but the number of seats in Gujrat, their strong bastion, has not increased whereas most of them want to contest from here.
Meanwhile, Moonis says the PML-N has hatched a conspiracy to create a rift among his family.
He was speaking to a gathering of party workers at the Zahoor Elahi house here on Sunday night.
He said adopting the popular politics by supporting the PTI had created a good space for the PML-Q across the country and now he would visit different districts of the province to organise the party there.
Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2022