• Consensus on serving bureaucrat Sukhera, ex-minister Naseer Khan, ex-bureaucrat Khosa
• Elahi says Moonis favours PML-Q merger into PTI, believes differences in PDM will result in Shehbaz losing trust vote
LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and PML-Q on Sunday finalised three consensus candidates as their nominees to be discussed with the opposition leader in the erstwhile Punjab Assembly for the appointment of a caretaker chief minister in the province.
The nominees included Cabinet Secretary Ahmad Nawaz Sukhera, former health minister Naseer Khan and former chief secretary Nasir Saeed Khosa.
The inclusion of Mr Sukhera in the panel has surprised many since he is still in service and has a couple of weeks to go till his retirement. He had earlier featured in the panel of candidates for the selection of Punjab chief secretary, but he withdrew his name on the plea that he would be retiring soon.
Mr Khan belongs to Narowal and has served as the federal health minister as well as a former WHO head (health). Mr Khosa is a former bureaucrat and has served as the Punjab chief secretary.
These candidates were announced by Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi after consultation with PTI Chairman Imran Khan at his Zaman Park residence late on Sunday evening.
Punjab Governor Balighur Rehman has already written separate letters to CM Elahi and outgoing opposition leader in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz to mutually decide a candidate to propose for appointment as the caretaker CM within three days. Both the leaders have till Tuesday evening to discuss and decide a name.
Answering a question, Mr Elahi said he was not supposed to contact Hamza, adding he would send his three nominees to the governor. Calling the finalised candidates non-controversial, he added: “If the PML-N considers these three names sanely, I see a consensus developing on one of them.”
Answering another question about the prospects of the PML-Q’s merger into the PTI, Mr Elahi was more candid in his response than earlier in the day, saying his son Moonis also wanted both the parties to merge and go ahead in politics with a consensus. “Any such merger will strengthen the party,” Mr Elahi maintained.
When questioned about the same earlier in the day, Mr Elahi had asked the media to wait, and said his party’s decision would surface after their consultative meeting scheduled to be held on Monday (today) to thrash out the proposal.
To another question about some PTI leaders’ resentment over a possible merger, the CM said it’s the PML-Q legislators who would face problems, not the PTI’s. “The PTI leaders and workers will feel that the PML-Q has strengthened them,” he added.
Flanked by PML-Q MNA Hussain Elahi, the CM said he had called a meeting of his party legislators and office-bearers at his residence on Monday (today) to discuss Imran Khan’s proposal for the merger.
About the PTI’s plan to have Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif take a vote of confidence from the National Assembly, Elahi said Mr Khan had rightly said the PM would be put to test now. “The PDM parties will soon see differences among themselves and Shehbaz Sharif will not be able to win the vote of confidence,” he had claimed earlier in the day.
Earlier, PTI senior leader Fawad Chaudhry said the PML-N should propose a non-controversial nominee for the caretaker chief minister so a candidate could be finalised smoothly by CM Elahi and the opposition leader under Article 224 of the Constitution.
In case there was no consensus between the leaders, Chaudhry said, both sides would forward two names each to a parliamentary committee. “If the committee also doesn’t reach a consensus candidate in the three days after that (Friday), the four names will be sent to the Election Commission of Pakistan that will then select a candidate as the caretaker chief minister,” the former minister said.
Mr Chaudhry claimed the party MPAs, who have been served show-cause notices, were seeking meetings but it was too late. “The violators of party discipline should now reply to the show-cause notices,” he remarked.
The PTI had served show-cause notices on MPAs Faisal Farooq Cheema and Momina Waheed for violating the party policy and abstaining from the vote of confidence for the chief minister in the Punjab Assembly.
All hopes dashed
When asked at the inauguration of the Khatamun Nabiyeen University here earlier in the day whether he would contest the general elections on the PTI’s election symbol of the ‘bat’ or the PML-Q’s ‘tractor’, the CM had said the media must maintain some patience to find out the answer to this question. He repeated his answer to the question whether he had any contacts with his cousin Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain who would be issuing party tickets for the elections.
Expressing his loyalty with the PTI, Mr Elahi said he had dashed the hopes of all those who wanted to see a confrontation between the two parties, by fulfilling his commitment that the Punjab government belonged to the PTI and he would dissolve the provincial assembly as per the instructions of the PTI chairman.
“I, along with my son Moonis Elahi and later with Rasikh Elahi, held separate meetings with Mr Khan and always expressed our commitment to follow his instructions for dissolving the Punjab Assembly,” he commented. “The PTI chief even offered a position to Moonis Elahi but we decided not to discuss such proposals as our detractors may think we struck a bargain before dissolving the assembly.”
Answering a question about Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah’s claim that the CM had requested the PML-N to submit a no-confidence resolution against him in the Punjab Assembly, Elahi said the minister was looking for lame excuses.
He further said PM Sharif and Mr Sanaullah were misguiding their party leaders and legislators, were unaware of the ground realities and eventually faced humiliation in the vote of confidence. “They could also not get support from the ‘invisible forces’,” he remarked.
“PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif has now called Rana Sanaullah to London to admonish him over his failure in Punjab politics.”
In the upcoming elections, Mr Elahi said, the PTI and PML-Q would make the PML-N bite the dust in Punjab and reduce it to the level of the PPP. “The people of Pakistan are standing behind Imran Khan and will express their support through their votes,” he said confidently.
The chief minister claimed pressure had started to build on the federal government to hold general elections across the country, adding the dissolution of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly in the next couple of days would further mount the pressure.
Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2023