LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) senior leader Fawad Chaudhry on Thursday declared that Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi will have to dissolve the provincial assembly if his party wants to stay allied with the PTI.

The former minister said this while commenting on recent rumours that suggested Mr Elahi did not want to dissolve the assembly anytime soon. He was speaking to the media after the PTI chief’s meetings with the party’s prospective candidates from Gujranwala and Rawalpindi divisions as well as a traders’ delegation.

On the other hand, acknowledging that the PML-Q was an independent political party and needed to align its actions with the political realities, Mr Chaudhry said: “The PML-Q must decide whether it wants to continue its alliance with the PTI or go solo in the next elections.”

He added that CM Elahi and his son Moonis had said on record that they wanted to continue their partnership with the PTI. Insisting that the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies would be dissolved this month, he claimed all PTI stakeholders were united on this front.

Mr Chaudhry further said the PTI leadership had conveyed the party chief’s decision of dissolving the Punjab Assembly during the ongoing month to its PML-Q counterparts. However, he said, the allied party’s leaders wanted to delay the process for a little while.

“The delay will hinder early elections in both provinces and allow the country to continue heading towards the death trap of default,” he said.

The former information minister further claimed the state institutions, including the Election Commission of Pakistan, were playing their roles in politics and had forgotten their own claims of having become apolitical.

“The PTI wants the establishment to go back to its constitutional parameters by freeing itself of the burden of carrying the political ‘corpses’ of Asif Zardari, Fazlur Rehman and Nawaz Sharif,” he remarked.

Answering another question, Mr Chaudhry reluctantly agreed that the PTI had no say in Punjab as it was not even able to get a first information report (FIR) registered on the assassination attempt on Imran Khan as per his wishes. He also acknowledged that the PTI’s women legislators and leaders had protested and submitted applications with three police stations in the province for the registration of an FIR against Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl chief Fazlur Rehman over his misogynistic remarks.

On the other hand, he regretted, “an FIR has been registered in a police station near Lahore against party leader Shahbaz Gill on a common citizen’s application”.

Not my boss

Meanwhile, just a day after a close aide of retired Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa reportedly claimed that former prime minister Imran Khan used to call up the former army chief for every little matter, including political issues, and addressed him as “boss”, the PTI chief categorically denied the claim, saying he never used that title for Gen Bajwa, as he was the prime minister of the country.

Samaa TV anchorperson Mansoor Ali Khan had reported on Tuesday afternoon, while quoting a former aide of Gen Bajwa, that Imran referred to the former army chief as “boss”.

Referring to another media report that his relations with the armed forces went sour when he held off issuing a notification for Lt Gen Faiz Hamid’s posting out of the ISI, the former premier claimed he got to know the general only during the latter’s stint as the head of the premier spy agency, and he (Faiz) used to call Gen Bajwa “boss”.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan clarified these reports while speaking to YouTubers, who called on him at his Zaman Park residence on Thursday. Mr Khan also reiterated that his government’s decision to give an extension to Gen Bajwa was a “mistake”.

Stressing that no one in the army should get an extension, Mr Khan recalled that when he assumed the office of prime minister, the country was facing several problems that pushed him to take the plunge. “Extension to former army chief Gen Bajwa was inevitable to handle the crisis that was brewing,” he claimed.

Talking about his relations with the former army chief, Mr Khan said he trusted Gen Bajwa with whatever he said because “we both were thinking about the country and looking to save it”. He regretted he did not know he was being lied to and betrayed.

The former premier said he had received a report from the Intelligence Bureau (IB) about a “game” being played. “My source in IB used to inform me verbally because he feared the repercussions if anything came on record,” he claimed.

Answering a question about the dissolution of Punjab and KP assemblies, the PTI chairman reiterated that Punjab Chief Minister Elahi had authorised him to pull the plug on the legislature.

Regarding the assassination attempt on him in Wazirabad, Mr Khan claimed the attack was planned around two and a half months ago, and claimed “the video of the attacker was released for a purpose”. He further called the return of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s son Suleman Shehbaz an “NRO-II”.

“Two families – Sharifs and Zardaris – have weakened all institutions,” he regretted.

Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2022

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