LAHORE: Former president Asif Ali Zardari claims he had convinced the Sharifs for nominating Parvez Elahi as the Punjab chief minister on the request of PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat back in April, when the PTI was removed from power from the centre and Punjab.

Talking to members of Punjab PPP parliamentary party here on Thursday, he said that he convinced Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz to accept Mr Elahi as the ruling alliance’s candidate for chief minister when Shujaat asked him to do so.

Mr Elahi backed out of his commitment and joined hands with Imran Khan at the eleventh hour, he regretted, adding the N-League however honored its commitment of accepting the Punjab Assembly speaker as their candidate in the poll for CM’s election, he added.

He said he did believe in the politics of reconciliation but as a follower of Bhutto would not do politics of buying loyalties. Referring to the allegations of horse trading, he said why he would invest for Hamza, a PML-N leader and [the allegations would have carried weight] had there been PPP leader Hassan Murtaza as the candidate in the contest taking place on Friday (today).

He said he was standing with the PML-N firmly in the electoral bout and was accepting all responsibilities in this respect.

About his presence in Lahore at the crucial time, he said he had announced three months ago that he would sit in Punjab for future politics.

Meanwhile, the PPP staged “Asif Ali Zardari Zindabad” rally on Thursday. Led by Rana Farooq, Faisal Mir and Azizur Rehman Chan, the participants carrying party flags marched from the Lahore Press Club up to Wapda House.

On the occasion, various speakers alleged the use of money for forming a government had been introduced by Imran Khan through his ‘ATMs’ back in 2018 but was now blaming others for the menace.

They asked if the PPP was forming its government in Punjab for which Mr Zardari would use his resources.

They said all knew that the ‘biggest daku’ of Punjab Parvez Elahi was offering tens of millions of rupees to the MPAs to become the chief minister though his party’s (PML-Q) parliamentary strength is only 10.

They claimed that a majority of the PTI MPAs didn’t wish to vote for the PML-Q’s nominee for CM office and that’s why Mr Elahi was offering a share of his ‘illegally accumulated wealth’ to the assembly members to become CM.

They asked if Mr Elahi was involved in buying loyalties of PML-N MPAs Jalil Sharaqpuri and Faisal Niazi and whether the PTI didn’t offer Rs100m to MPA Maulana Ilyas Chinioti while the latter in Saudi Arabia to perform Haj, and also referred to the audio leak in which former interior minister Sheikh Rashid was talking of horse trading.

Published in Dawn, July 22nd, 2022

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