• Qureshi says Imran seeking to bridge ‘gulfs’ created due to ‘misunderstandings’
• Says party chief wants new govt before Ramazan
• Elahi wooing PTI lawmakers in apparent bid to ‘stall’ PA dissolution

LAHORE: As Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan reiterated his threat to dissolve the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies, the delay in securing support for and implementing his plan seems to be working against him, as the situation on the ground is changing with each passing day.

The latest reinforcement of dissolving the two provincial houses was conveyed through the party’s Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

Mr Qureshi claimed on Wednesday that Mr Khan has expressed his conviction that fresh general elections were the only solution to all the ills plaguing the country.

“Seriousness to the cause demands immediate dissolution of the Punjab and KP assemblies,” he quoted the party chief as saying.

Without mentioning the military establishment or the federal government, the former foreign minister said the PTI chief wanted to take confidence-building measures to bridge the “gulf created due to misunderstandings” during the past eight months.

The latest assertion, however, comes at a time when Punjab and KP chief ministers Chaudhry Parvez Elahi and Mahmood Khan’s previous stance of unconditional and unwavering support to Imran in going ahead with quitting the assemblies may just be gaining some flexibility.

Parvez Elahi has of late been saying that the Punjab Assembly would continue functioning till April– beyond Ramazan. KP’s Mahmood Khan has also shown some flexibility and said his assembly would be dissolved after the Punjab legislature.

While the PML-Q, the PTI’s ally in Punjab, is busy calculating how to milk its government and gain more ground in the province, the PTI is also apparently witnessing some fissures within the party as many MPAs do not back the Punjab Assembly’s dissolution.

Moreover, sources said such lawmakers could also stay absent from a prospective chief minister’s election in case Mr Elahi is convinced to join hands with the opposition PML-N, accepting its offer for PA speakership, as is being rumoured.

After the party’s senior leadership meeting at Imran Khan’s Zaman Park residence on Wednesday, Mr Qureshi told the media that the party chief wanted the election process to be completed and a new public-mandated government in the saddle before Ramazan, which begins at the end of March.

“Imran Khan says there should be no further delay in the dissolution of provincial assemblies as he took all measures by sending messages(to political players) through various sources, including direct talks led by President Dr Arif Alvi,” Qureshi said and regretted that the efforts had remained futile.

He further said the party wanted to bridge the gulfs created during the past eight months to end the political and economic mayhem in the country.

“It is the [Pakistan Democratic Movement] government’s own choice if it wants to keep its personal interests supreme than the country’s, and let Pakistan further sink into a plethora of problems that the new government will be unable to recover from during its constitutional term in power,” he regretted and cited the alleged infighting within the government — specifically between former and incumbent finance ministers Miftah Ismail and Ishaq Dar.

Elahi’s efforts

On the other hand, Punjab CM Elahi has launched hectic efforts against the dissolution of Punjab Assembly and to woo PTI legislators with lucrative development funds in their respective constituencies.

The men in the Elahi camp are also raising the issue of former prime minister Imran Khan’s security, saying that he was safe in the folds of Punjab and KP where his party ruled, and quitting the houses here could withdraw any protection he enjoys here.

“Mr Khan has restricted his movement to Islamabad, Sindh and Balochistan fearing arrest in various cases lodged against him,” the source said, adding Mr Elahi did not want to compromise on Khan’s security.

“On the other hand, Mr Elahi is quietly attempting to woo PTI leaders and strengthening his roots in the Punjab politics through massive development works and creation of new districts as well as Gujrat division – his hometown,” a source in the PTI told Dawn, adding Mr Khan’s decision to delay the dissolution of assemblies since his announcement on Nov 26 appeared to be backfiring now.

Stating that party MNAs had resigned from the National Assembly, Mr Qureshi told the media they were already not a part of the lower house of parliament and the dissolution of Punjab and KP assemblies would create an environment for general elections in the country.

He also conveyed the party’s appreciation for the Supreme Court’s suo motu notice in journalist Arshad Sharif’s killing case and constitution of a five-member bench that also perused the fact-finding report.

“The mother of the slain journalist and the PTI demand justice in the case as it will help restore the basic true fabric of the country’s Constitution and law of the land,” the former minister insisted.

He also called for dispensation of justice to party leaders Senator Azam Swati, Shahbaz Gill as well as the Imran Khan who has not been allowed to get an FIR registered as per his wishes in the assassination attempt on him during the long march in Wazirabad.

The points discussed during the meeting were also explained by PTI leaders including Secretary General Asad Umar and senior leaders Fawad Chaudhry and Shireen Mazari.

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2022

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