• Moonis says ‘ground realities’ must be kept in mind before exiting power in Punjab, KP
• Salik Hussain meets Nawaz, says Moonis never told them about ‘instructions from military’
• PTI chief says assemblies could be dissolved this month
LAHORE: Even though they publicly continue to stand by Imran Khan’s stance that the Punjab Assembly’s fate has been sealed, the Chaudhrys of Gujrat have cautioned the PTI leader to be prudent in his appraisal of the current political situation before taking such a step.
“There is no conflict between the PTI and PML-Q on the dissolution of the Punjab Assembly and we have conveyed this message to the PTI chairman loud and clear: the assembly will be dissolved in the blink of an eye, if he can ensure elections in Punjab soon afterwards,” Moonis Elahi — the son of Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi — told Dawn on Saturday.
“The decision to dissolve the Punjab Assembly should be prudent [and take into consideration] the prevailing ground realities,” he said, adding that this apprehension had been conveyed to Mr Khan when CM Elahi, Moonis and Hussain Elahi called on the former at his Zaman Park residence on Dec 1.
According to the younger Elahi, PML-Q “has whole-heartedly agreed to allow Mr Khan to dissolve assembly anytime, but he should also be mindful of the fact that the PML-N’s coalition government should not be able to delay the elections through technicalities” as that could make things difficult for both parties once they are out of power in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
It has been two weeks since Mr Khan sprang the ‘surprise’ decision to quit the provincial governments in the two provinces, and in this time, PTI leaders – from Fawad Chaudhry to Shah Mehmood Qureshi – have constantly conveyed the same message, i.e. they want to dissolve the assemblies immediately.
But Mr Khan, who in recent days has been mum on the question of when assemblies will be dissolved, told Bol News on Saturday that his party would push for dissolution in the current month.
Perhaps realising that general elections cannot be held by March, as he was thinking earlier, Mr Khan expressed the confidence that “PDM parties will be defeated, even if they hold elections after 10 months or a year”.
In his latest interview, the PTI chief acknowledged that CM Elahi had suggested the Punjab government be kept intact for a little more time, but said the PML-Q leader had assured him that they would follow his (Imran’s) instructions.
A few days earlier, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry had issued a veiled threat of sorts when he said that Elahi would have to dissolve the assembly if he wanted to maintain their alliance with the PTI. But no one from the Muslim League side responded publicly.
Now, sources in PTI say the party is coming to terms with the realisation that immediate dissolution of the assembly could cause both coalition partners major problems in Punjab.
One of the reasons is that following the announcement that Punjab LG polls will be held in April, it seems unlikely that general elections can be scheduled before then.
Sources in the party’s senior ranks also apprehend serious problems for party leaders, office bearers and supporters once they exit the government setup, along the lines of the police action faced by PTI marchers on May 25 of this year.
Salik meets Nawaz
Meanwhile in London, PML-Q leader and federal minister Chaudhry Salik Hussain called on PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif on Saturday, where the two men decided that Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain’s faction of the PML-Q would continue its alliance with the PML-N in the days to come.
Speaking to reporters after his meeting at Stanhope House, Mr Hussain was asked if he discussed the possibility of the two factions uniting. “Everything was discussed. My father said to give Mian sahib his regards and inquire after his health as I was visiting London,” he said.
Asked if Pervaiz Elahi was changing direction, he gave a cryptic response: “Intentions matter, if your intentions are not clean, then there are consequences. Everyone knows how things were and what was happening, I don’t want to repeat what was happening.”
To a question on whether Mr Elahi would continue with PTI, he continued, cryptically, saying: “intentions of both sides are not right”.
When asked about Moonis Elahi’s claim that it was pressure from the army that guided their decision to side with Imran Khan, Mr Hussain said, “If that was the case, then they should have told us before leaving. Shujaat sahib asked [Moonis] him very clearly… he should have told him.”
He said he had no reservations if Moonis wanted to contact him.
Atika Rehman in London also contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, December 11th, 2022