LAHORE: Soon after the election of Hamza Shahbaz as Chief Minister of Punjab, an important meeting took place between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, former president Asif Ali Zardari and PML-Q head Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain to chalk out the strategy to deal with PTI and its chairman Imran Khan’s plan.
According to details, the trio discussed political situation of the country while the premier and former president thanked PML-Q head for his support in crucial CM Punjab poll.
Economic situation of the country as well as upcoming general elections were also discussed during the meeting.
According to the sources, on the eve of the Punjab Chief Minister election, Asif Ali Zardari held a five-hour-long meeting with Chaudhry Shujaat in a last-ditch effort to woo him to support PML-N’s candidate Hamza Shahbaz. Needless to say, Zardari’s attempts were successful.
After a close call with defeat, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday heaved a sigh of relief and thanked PPP Co-Chairman and former President Asif Ali Zardari and PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain for their role in the Punjab Chief Minister election which changed PML-N’s fate.
To clarify, in a shocking outcome of events, the PML-N on Friday won a dramatic victory against the PTI that very few had predicted in the Punjab chief minister’s election. PTI was set for victory as its candidate for Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi received 186 votes (PTI and PML-Q votes combined) whereas PML-N’s Hamza Shehbaz received 179 votes.
At the last moment, Dost Mazari received a letter from PML-Q head Chaudhry Shujaat instructing his MPAs to vote for PML-N’s candidate. As a result, Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Mohammad Mazari ruled that PML-Q members’ votes were not counted in light of the party head’s letter, consequently making Hamza Shehbaz the Chief Minister.
In a series of tweets, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif hailed Zardari and Ch. Shujaat for “protecting democracy and constitutional values.” The premier also thanked all coalition parties and their respected leaders for the political insight, unity, and support due to which the “democracy won”.
Shehbaz thanks Zardari, Ch. Shujaat
“Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain is the political heir and pioneer of Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi Shaheed. He once again revived the democratic tradition of his great father and family. His role is a victory for democracy and constitutional values for which I pay tribute to Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, his family, and colleagues,” the premier tweeted.
“Former President Asif Ali Zardari has played a historic role for the constitution, democracy, and the people. Former President Zardari’s political tolerance ended the crisis,” he further added.
Important to note that Chaudhry Shujaat’s letter – which became the basis on which votes for Elahi were disregarded – had come a day after Asif Ali Zardari held a meeting with him. On the eve of the Punjab Chief Minister election, Asif Ali Zardari held a five-hour-long meeting with Chaudhry Shujaat in a last-ditch effort to woo him to support PML-N’s candidate Hamza Shahbaz. Needless to say, Zardari’s attempts were successful.
Ruling coalition wants full court to hear PML-Q petition
In another development, the ruling coalition Saturday sought the formation of a full court to hear the petition filed by the PML-Q against the controversial ruling of Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Mohammad Mazari.
The development comes as a three-member bench of the Supreme Court took up the petition and summoned the deputy speaker and issued notices to Chief Minister Hamza Shahbaz and others.
In a joint statement, the ruling alliance demanded of the top court to fix SCBA’s review petition on Article 63-A, PML-Q’s petition and other similar applications for hearing together.
“Imran Khan is repeatedly creating chaos in politics,” read the statement.
The anarchy created by Imran Khan was meant for taking back powers through the back door and concealing his corruption, said the ruling alliance.
Just sake of opposition to Imran Khan
In a very big revealing interview, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) leader, said on Saturday his decision of not supporting his cousin, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, during the chief minister’s election in Punjab owed to the criticism of state institutions by former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.
Hussain’s letter to the deputy speaker of Punjab Assembly, Dost Mohammad Mazari, on Friday changed the outcome of the electoral contest since he decided that his party would support the candidate of the ruling coalition, Hamza Shehbaz.
The letter, which Mazari read out for the voting process, was used to invalidate 10 PML-Q votes cast in Elahi’s favor since the deputy speaker said they violated rules determined by the country’s top court in a recent verdict related to the interpretation of Article 63-A of the constitution that deals with the disqualification of federal and provincial lawmakers.
While the deputy speaker’s ruling paved the way for Hamza Shehbaz’s victory, it also led to a new debate about whether the party line in such matters was determined by its chief or leader of the parliamentary party within an assembly.
“Pervaiz Elahi was my candidate for Chief Minister and he is today and will be tomorrow, but he cannot be the candidate of PTI,” Hussain wrote in a Twitter post. “Having had a relationship with [state] institutions for thirty years, how can I support their critics? If there are institutions, there is stability in Pakistan.”
The PML-Q chief said leaders of all political parties should rise above their personal interests and move toward reconciliation since the country could not be allowed to “witness more crises.”
“Forget everything and give up confrontational politics while only keeping national security in mind,” he added.
Elahi has already challenged the ruling of the Punjab Assembly’s deputy speaker in the Supreme Court, making the judges give a preliminary ruling that Hamza Shehbaz would continue to work as the “trustee chief minister” until Monday.
The ruling coalition has also asked the chief justice of Pakistan to constitute a full court to hear the case while describing it as “an important national, political and constitutional matter.”
Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain who is President of Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q), the man whose letter supposedly turned the tide of the Punjab chief minister’s election, went on record with his reason for opposing the PTI-backed candidature of his cousin, Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, saying he could not support “anyone who criticised state institutions”.
He clarified that while Elahi “was, is and would remain” his candidate for the office of chief minister, he (Shujaat) could not allow him to become “the nominee of PTI”.
Chaudhry Shujaat cited this reason for his opposition to PTI backing for Elahi in a series of tweets that were shared from Mr Shujaat’s official Twitter account.
Parvez Elahi’s son, Moonis, confirmed that the account does indeed belong to the PML-Q chief and is operated by his son, Chaudhry Salik Hussain.
In his tweets, Chaudhry Shujaat wrote: “I cannot support anyone criticising state institutions because he [Shujaat] has cordial relations with the institutions for the past three decades. The state institutions guarantee stability in Pakistan.”
Moonis Elahi, however, claimed that Chaudhry Shujaat was under “immense pressure” and he politely refused to support Parvez Elahi as a candidate of Imran Khan.
Speaking to media persons after his bail hearing on Saturday, asked him to elaborate as to what kind of pressure was being exerted on Chaudhry Shujaat, Moonis said the reporters should put this question to Chaudhry Shujaat.
Moonis said he had gone to see Shujaat Hussain and asked whether he had written the letter on which he replied that he did.
“I have instructed the PML-Q MPAs not to vote anyone in the chief minister’s election being held in Punjab Assembly,” he quoted Chaudhry Shujaat as saying.
As Moonis contested that he [Chaudhry Shujaat] wanted Parvez Elahi not to win, the latter stated that Elahi should become the chief minister, but not as a candidate of Imran Khan. “But when I told him that in such a situation Parvez Elahi will lose the election, the PML-Q president kept mum,” Moonis stated.
It may be mentioned that Chaudhry Shujaat’s letter addressed to Punjab Assembly’s deputy speaker / presiding officer on the election day states that PML-Q president had instructed all 10 MPAs of the party, including CM candidate Parvez Elahi, “to poll their votes in favour of Muhammad Hamza Shehbaz Sharif”.
The letter also carried copies of PML-Q president’s directions to party’s 10 MPAs issued on the election day. However, none of these letters have been shared with the media thus far.