• Asks MPAs to persuade CM to take confidence vote, dissolve Punjab Assembly
• Elahi calls on former PM, assures all-out support

LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chair­man Imran Khan on Monday expressed distrust in his ally Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi, saying allegations of corruption worth billions against the PML-Q leader were apparently affecting his popularity.

“I cannot stand such allegations against my coalition government in Punjab,” Mr Khan said in a meeting with the party’s senior leaders. The former premier asserted that all PTI legislators in the Punjab Assembly should persuade Mr Elahi to take a vote of confidence and dissolve the assembly.

The remarks made by the PTI chairman prompted a visit from CM Elahi to Zaman Park in the evening. The Punjab CM convinced Imran Khan that his party was standing behind PTI wholeheartedly.

PML-Q leader Moonis Elahi, who is not in Pakistan at present, told Dawn that his father’s meeting with Imran Khan has resulted in a thaw. “Instead of any ill feelings, they have become best of friends today,” the younger Elahi quipped.

“Imran Khan has assured my father that he would share whatever information comes to him with the CM first,” the younger Elahi claimed.

Parvez Elahi assured Imran Khan that the ex-PM was his leader and he would stand by him. “Our alliance is stronger than before,” he asserted.

While Imran Khan is getting jittery over the delay in the trust vote in the Punjab Assembly, PTI Secretary General Asad Umar took an altogether different stance, saying that the ruling alliance in Punjab would not stage a vote of confidence on the “whims of the opposition”.

In light of the governor’s directive for the vote of confidence, Mr Khan and his party leaders were trying to convince Mr Elahi to take the trust vote before the hearing at the Lahore High Court on Jan 11.

However, CM Elahi refused to take the vote of confidence till the LHC decision. “We will take a vote of confidence when it will be legally required or politically needed,” Asad Umar said.

A number of PTI leaders still believe that the Punjab chief minister was trying to delay the trust vote through legal squabbling. They believed that Mr Elahi might take this legal battle to the Supreme Court to further delay the dissolution of the assembly.

“We are compelled to believe that CM Parvez Elahi will continue to create hurdles in the dissolution of the assembly because he had already explained his mind that he was toeing the line of establishment and the powers-that-be desired the assembly should complete its constitutional tenure,” a PTI stalwart told Dawn while requesting anonymity.

Speaking about the session of the Punjab Assembly, Punjab Parliamentary Affairs Minister Basharat Raja told Dawn that the PTI-PML-Q got 21 bills passed and the opposition failed to even oppose these bills.

“Interior minister Rana Sanaullah and PM’s adviser Attaullah Tarar continued sitting in the assembly gallery for almost eight hours from 11am, but could not achieve anything in the session,” Mr Raja added.

Answering a question, Mr Umar said PTI MPAs and MNAs from south Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were receiving calls from unknown numbers and added that these calls would not have much impact.

Mr Umar said the country was heading toward disaster in terms of hyperinflation amid a drastic decline in foreign reserves.

The PTI leader also chided Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for failing to control the economy and now looking at the public’s dollars lying in their commercial banks.

Mr Umar said the imports had been shut and the industry was closing down, resulting in unemployment, shortage of daily use items, and price-hike.

He blamed the PDM government for the flour crisis in Punjab and added that Hamza Shehbaz during his short stint as chief minister had released wheat in May last year which led to its smuggling and hoarding.

Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2023

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