• CM says he stands with PTI chief through thick and thin; visits Pindi and Islamabad for ‘important meetings’
• PTI lawmakers seek to delay PA’s scuttling for sake of ongoing uplift projects
LAHORE/KARACHI: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan and Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi on Thursday met to apparently review their options to dissolve the provincial assembly in Punjab, amid reports that a group of PTI lawmakers was asking the party chief to put the dissolution plans on hold.
The meeting between the former prime minister and the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q) leader came amid speculations that there was a difference of opinion between the two parties over the plan to dissolve the assembly — a plan announced by Mr Khan at a charged rally in Rawalpindi on Nov 26.
Rumour mills started churning after PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry told media that Mr Khan had consulted Khyber Pakhtunkhwa CM Mehmood Khan on Monday and would meet the Punjab CM the next day. However, the meeting did not materialise on Tuesday, giving rise to speculations. CM Elahi’s camp, however, had stated that the meeting with Mr Khan had been scheduled for Thursday.
But before meeting Imran Khan, CM Elahi met PTI leader Pervez Khattak, which further fuelled speculations surrounding the planned dissolution of the provincial assemblies.
Apparently, the CM apprised the PTI stalwart about issues pertaining to the dissolution of the Punjab Assembly. It may be noted that this was the second meeting between the two in recent days.
To put all rumours to rest, Mr Elahi said after meeting the former premier that he stood firm with Imran Khan and would not hesitate for a moment to dissolve the assembly on Mr Khan’s call. His son, PML-Q leader Moonis Elahi, echoed similar sentiments.
After the meeting with the PTI chief, Mr Khattak told media persons that PTI and PML-Q leaders were on the same page and “the decision made in the meeting would be made public soon”.
Meanwhile, Imran Khan stated that a meeting of the provincial parliamentary party had been called for a final consultation on the future of the Punjab Assembly.
Besides the Punjab and KP parliamentary parties’ meetings, scheduled for Friday (today) and Saturday, sources say Mr Khan has also called a meeting of PTI’s Sindh and Balochistan parliamentary parties on Sunday to hold further consultations.
Mr Khan has also asked the party’s legal team to analyse the legal aspects of the matter and prepare for any predictable complications. Mr Khan is expected to take a final decision after all the consultation meetings and considering the committee’s reports, sources told Dawn.
Calls for restraint
On the other hand, sources in the PTI parliamentary party said that some party MPAs wanted that the assembly should not be immediately dissolved and cited several reasons, including the development works, to argue their case. “Billions of rupees of tenders and contracts have been issued in various districts and it will be unwise to dissolve Punjab Assembly at this juncture,” a source said.
Similarly, sources claimed that a PTI’s high-level committee also submitted a report advising that the assembly should not be dissolved immediately owing to ongoing development works.
The report was earlier discussed in a meeting of senior party leaders chaired by PTI vice chief Shah Mahmood Qureshi and attended by provincial ministers Mian Aslam Iqbal, Hammad Azhar, and Senator Ejaz Chaudhry among others.
“Either this meeting was not held or I was not informed [about it]. I did not attend the meeting,” said Senator Chaudhry when Dawn contacted him.
Sources claimed that the lawmakers also recommended to the PTI chairman that the timing of the “political move should be effective” so that it would push the federal government towards general elections.
Sindh MPAs ready to call it quits
Also on Thursday, PTI MPAs in Sindh evolved a consensus to resign from the provincial assembly on the call of the chairman to show solidarity with the party’s decision to quit the assemblies of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab.
The consensus was reached at a meeting of the PTI parliamentary party held in the Sindh Assembly where the elected representatives from different parts of the province offered unconditional resignations from the assembly.
Elahi’s ‘private’ trip
In a related development, CM Elahi also travelled to Islamabad and Rawalpindi on Thursday, and returned to Lahore the same night.
Sources said Mr Elahi arrived by special plane around 5:30pm, where his security staff had reportedly been informed that the CM will “proceed to Rawalpindi to meet an important person”. But after landing, he took a trip to Islamabad instead.
After spending about 90 minutes in the federal capital, his convoy moved towards Rawalpindi. He then left the convoy near Ammar Chowk and moved towards Saddar, keeping his movements ‘private’.
Then around 9pm, CM Elahi suddenly appeared at Nur Khan Airbase and departed for Lahore.
Mohammad Asghar in Rawalpindi also contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2022