LAHORE: PML-N’s ‘over reliance on the establishment and PPP’s Asif Ali Zardari’ appears to be one of the major factors for its failure to cause required defections in the PTI-PMLQ parliamentary parties during Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi’s trust vote.

Mr Elahi managed to secure the required 186 votes in the Punjab Assembly in the early hours of Thursday to retain his position in the face of Governor Baligur Rehman’s advice to take a vote of confidence.

The PML-N leadership here and abroad has sought answers from those tasked with failing Mr Elahi in securing the trust vote to know “what and where their calculation went wrong.”

The PML-N was ‘super confident’ that Mr Elahi would not manage to obtain the vote. Two party stalwarts – Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and PM’s special assistant on interior Attaullah Tarar – had been overseeing the party’s campaign in this respect in the absence of the opposition leader in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz.

Mr Tarar was so much confident that he had even announced quitting politics in case Mr Elahi won the trust vote.

The lawmakers of the PML-N and its ally PPP were left ‘dejected and frustrated’ over the result, blaming their respective leadership’s ‘poor homework’.

A couple of senior party leaders Dawn spoke to on Thursday were of the view that ‘over reliance on the establishment’ by the federal coalition was one of the major reasons in its failure to stop the chief minister from securing the trust vote.

“Primarily, PPP senior leader Asif Ali Zardari and Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain of PMLQ were tasked with taking onboard at least 10 MPAs of the PTI-PMLQ ruling coalition in Punjab to snatch the majority from Mr Elahi. And in addition to their efforts, the PML-N was looking up to the establishment to get the job done at the end of the day. But Thursday’s result showed miscalculations on the part of the party leaders with regard to the establishment and Mr Zardari,” a senior leader from Punjab said.

Mr Zardari, in a no-confidence motion against ousted premier Imran Khan in April last, had managed to carve out a good number of defections among the PTI MNAs. But he failed this time around.

The PML-N leader further said two main Sharifs in Punjab – Maryam Nawaz and Hamza Shehbaz – had been abroad for months and in their absence there was no one from the family who could politically try to take a few PTI or PML-Q MPAs on board to scuttle the trust vote.

“The Sharifs forgot that they were not up against novice politician Usman Buzdar but seasoned Parvez Elahi. Mr Elahi survived the trust vote with just one number which showed that had the Sharifs put up some effort the PML-N might have been in a position to form its government in Punjab in a run-off election of the chief minister,” he regretted.

The PMLN-PPP opposition managed to take five PTI lawmakers – Khurram Leghari, Chaudhry Masood, Dost Muhammad Mazari, Faisal Cheema and Momina Waheed. However, it failed to win over the PML-Q which has 10 members.

Another PML-N leader said though efforts were made to cause around 10 defections in the PTI but the fate of previous ‘turncoats’ and absence of required help from the ‘powerful circles’ failed the PML-N and PPP plan.

He advised the leadership of his party to strongly face Imran Khan in the political battlefield and come out of fear of going to the public.

Federal Minister Javed Latif said the PML-N did not have ‘facilitators’ in the establishment to cause defections as the PTI did in 2018. Talking to a private news channel, Latif said: “We don’t need facilitators (in the establishment) nor were we offered this facility to fail the trust vote.”

Former federal minister Moonis Elahi has demanded resignation of Rana Sanaullah after his father (Elahi)‘s won trust vote. “If a little shame is left in Rana Sanaullah after the PML-N’s humiliating defeat in the Punjab Assembly he should resign forthwith. The PML-N should realise that old Pakistan has been replaced by Imran Khan’s new one,“ Moonis said in a tweet.

Ahead of the trust vote Sanaullah had claimed some seven MPAs of the PTI-PMLQ were abroad.

Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2023

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