• Says consultations on interim set-up to begin after governor takes decision on summary
• Fawad says president to decide if PM will be asked to take trust vote
• PTI serves notices to MPAs absent from vote of confidence proceedings

LAHORE: Hinting at a possible merger of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and PML-Q in the days to come, PTI Chairman Imran Khan acknowledged the role played by PML-Q leader Moonis Elahi in helping materialise the dissolution of the Punjab Assembly.

In a meeting with the media at his residence on Friday, Mr Khan said the PTI and PML-Q had gotten closer after the latter supported his party in the recent difficult times — from a legal contest with the opposition to eventually the chief minister signing off on the assembly’s dissolution.

Mr Khan had been vehemently seeking the dissolution of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies since announcing his plans for quitting both the houses at the conclusion of his party’s long march in Rawalpindi on Nov 26.

The PTI chief told the media that the PML-Q leadership had shown magnanimity by not indulging in any bargains or seat adjustment demands while taking a decision on the dissolution of Punjab Assembly. He said the KP Assembly would also be disbanded soon.

He further said the process for installation of an interim government would begin after the 48 hours the governor had to decide on the dissolution summary lapsed.

The PTI would finalise three names for an interim chief minister and send them to Chief Minister Parvez Elahi for onward consultation with the opposition leader in the Punjab Assembly. He hoped an impartial interim CM would be appointed to pave the way for free, fair and credible elections.

Answering a question, the PTI chairman said it would be hard for the Pakistan Democratic Movement to extend the tenure of the interim government in Punjab, claiming the new military leadership could not afford this.

Responding to another question, Mr Khan revealed that the PTI was not sure of achieving the magic number of 186 to win the vote of confidence for CM Elahi as he was continuously monitoring the “score”. However, he said, the ruling allies ultimately succeeded.

When contacted, a PML-Q senior leader said about the PTI chief’s prediction of a merger of both parties: “All options will be considered during consultations to be held soon.” He added the consultation for finalising names for an interim chief minister had not started yet.

Sources said the former prime minister had also hinted that President Dr Arif Alvi could ask the prime minister to take a vote of confidence from the National Assembly. The PTI chief had completed consultations on political and parliamentary matters with his party leadership. Mr Khan would ultimately decide whether the president should ask the PM to take the vote or not.

Meanwhile, party leader Fawad Chaudhry told the media that President Alvi would decide about asking the premier to take a vote of confidence. The PTI, he further said, had begun internal consultations on finalising three names to be forwarded to CM Elahi for onward discussion with Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz, who would also float names of three candidates.

Show-cause notices

Meanwhile, the PTI has served show-cause notices on the party’s MPAs Faisal Farooq Cheema from Sargodha and Momina Waheed on a reserved seat for violating the party policy and abstaining from the vote of confidence for the chief minister in the Punjab Assembly.

The notices required both the MPAs to appear before the party chairman on Saturday (today) in person and explain their positions.

The party may proceed against the MPAs under Article 63-A, as per the notices.

Countrywide elections

PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi has demanded nationwide elections without any delay that he believed were the only solution to the numerous problems facing the country.

In a statement issued on Friday, Mr Qureshi said the Punjab Assembly had been dissolved on the instructions of party Chairman Imran Khan as the PTI had taken a clear stand that free, fair and immediate general elections were the sole answer to the current political and economic crises.

The former minister further said Mr Khan had wanted the provincial assembly to be dissolved so the people could elect their new government.

“The next general elections should be announced across the country without any delay,” he demanded.

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2023

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