Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) president and veteran politician Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain on Wednesday reiterated his support for his cousin Chaudhry Parvez Elahi in the upcoming election for the Punjab chief minister.
The election will take place on July 22.
It is noteworthy that Shujaat is aligned with the ruling coalition in the Centre, and his son, Chaudhry Salik Hussain, is a member of Shehbaz Sharif's cabinet.
In a policy statement issued by the PML-Q, Shujaat said Elahi was the party's candidate for the top office, adding that "those who won the mandate have the right to govern".
The PML-Q president pointed out that he had made similar statements multiple times in the past as well.
In response to reports that PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari had asked Shujaat to write a letter instructing PML-Q MPAs not to vote for Elahi, Shujaat said there was "no question" of issuing a letter.
"I do not need to clarify. The solution to the country's problems lies in not getting involved in cycles of counting [votes]," he said while referring to the election for the chief minister.
"Whoever succeeds in solving the problems of the poor will have completed his numbers in the true sense," Shujaat said in his statement.
"Those who are elected should serve the people."
Shujaat said the solution to the country's problems was to either let the incumbent government stay for a year or more till the general elections or hold fresh elections immediately.
The election for the Punjab chief minister will be held on July 22.
After the Supreme Court's verdict that defectors' votes would not be counted in the election of the prime minister or chief minister and the resignation of two PML-N MPAs, incumbent Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz had lost his majority in the 371-strong house.
He is certain to lose his office to Elahi after failing to win 11 seats to achieve a majority in the Punjab Assembly where the joint opposition (PTI and PML-Q) now has 188 members after the recent by-polls.
Separately, PTI Vice-Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi and PML-Q's Chaudhry Parvez Elahi met on Wednesday to discuss the upcoming re-election.
Former Punjab governor Omer Sarfraz Cheema, Mehmoodur Rasheed and recently elected MPAs also participated in the meeting, according to a statement issued afterwards.
Elahi noted that the joint opposition had the majority in the Punjab Assembly and vowed to "defeat every effort to kidnap or harass MPAs".
For his part, Qureshi said the majority in the provincial assembly was standing with PTI Chairman Imran Khan and his nominated candidate.
Meanwhile, talking to reporters in Lahore, Qureshi clarified that his son Zain Qureshi was not a contender for speaker Punjab Assembly or chief minister, adding the party had already named Elahi as candidate for the position of the provincial chief executive.
He also insisted that the PTI had the required strength of MPAs to elect new chief minister.
Coalition vows to 'salvage' Punjab govt
A day earlier, the top leadership of the ruling coalition got together in Lahore for an ‘introspective’ huddle, resolving to save the Punjab government at any cost and announce the next general elections after completing the current assembly’s term till August 2023.
The coalition partners put their weight behind Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in launching ‘concrete efforts’ and exploring all possible ways to save his son Hamza’s office of the Punjab chief minister from the joint PTI-PML-Q candidate Elahi.
Leaders of the main coalition parties – PML-N, PPP and JUI-F – told PM Shehbaz to pull up his socks and, come what may, not hand over Punjab to the PTI-PML-Q without a tough fight. “Hamza should not resign. The coalition will explore ways to retain him as the CM at all costs,” the source quoted a participant of the meeting as having said.
Separately, PPP’s Zardari met Shujaat at the latter’s residence in Lahore and reportedly sought his help to save Hamza in the run-off election.
Shujaat’s son Salik Hussain and PML-Q leader Tariq Bashir Cheema are part of Shehbaz’s cabinet.
The PML-Q has 10 MPAs in the Punjab Assembly, and Zardari reportedly asked Shujaat to side with the ruling coalition.