While discussing a possible scenario in which a new set-up may be carved out in Punjab to thwart PTI’s plan of dissolving the assembly, PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari has reportedly assured PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain that in any such case, PML-N leader Hamza Shehbaz will not be given the slot of chief minister.

Referring to Mr Zardari’s recent visit, Mr Shujaat said the former president had come to his residence for inquiring about his health — nothing more, Geo News reported.

However, Geo News while quoting sources claimed that Mr Zardari asked him to not let Chief Minister Parvez Elahi dissolve the assembly, and assured him of a new setup after consultations.

Mr Zardari’s suggestion implies that the opposition is trying to win over support of Elahi-led MPAs of PML-Q.

Chaudhry Shujaat offers to mediate between PTI, PDM; says he advised Elahi not to allow army officer to be nominated in Wazirabad FIR

The former president also assured Mr Shujaat that Hamza Shahbaz would not be the chief minister in the new setup.

For many years, Chaudhrys of Gujrat and the PML-N leadership have been strong opponent of each other in the power politics.

Meanwhile, Chaudhry Shujaat offered to become a mediator between the PTI and the PDM-led federal government.

“Damage to economy can be avoided if politicians stay in contact. If Imran Khan asks, I will personally speak to Prime Minister [Shehbaz Sharif] in this regard,” the veteran politician told Geo News on Wednesday.

PTI has been pressurising the coalition government at the Centre to hold early elections in light of the “deteriorating economy”.

But even though the PTI has been persistent in its demand for early polls since Imran Khan was ousted from power in April, its ally CM Elahi has recently said he did not see elections taking place in the next four months.

Mr Shujaat said that all the assemblies should complete their respective tenures, adding that if the Punjab Assembly was dissolved, it would trigger a constitutional crisis.

Of his meeting with Mr Zardari, Chaudhry Shujaat said the former had come to his residence for inquiring about his health, nothing more.

“I did not speak about Punjab’s situation with Asif Zardari, though it is possible that we might speak about Parvez Elahi in the future,” he said.

Mr Shujaat said that neither did he [the PPP leader] discuss Elahi nor did he speak about the PDM with Mr Zardari.

On his terms with Parvez Elahi, Chaudhry Shujaat said he does not speak about politics with the chief minister and that they only discussed matters related to “national interest”.

“I had suggested Parvez Elahi not to have the FIR (first information report) registered against the army officer [in the case about the gun attack on Imran Khan],” he disclosed.

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2022

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