Sharif turns to Shujaat in bid to thwart anti-govt alliance: report

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Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made telephonic contact with the Chaudhrys of Gujrat for the first time in over a decade ostensibly to thwart their moves for formation of a grand opposition alliance against the government, local daily Express Tribune said in a report.

According to the Tribune report, Sharif made contact with Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain just before Ramazan and invited him for a meeting. The information to the paper was shared by a close aide of Shujaat, who also said that the PML-Q leader had told the premier that he would get back to him after consulting his party leaders.

However the report said that Sharif’s decision to contact Shujaat for the first time since his government was toppled in a military coup in 1999 bore no fruit and the PML-Q leader never returned the premier’s call.

According to the paper’s report, the PML-Q leader was tasked by Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Dr Tahirul Qadri – who joined hands with the Chaudhrys in June – to contact other parties and convince them to join his self-proclaimed ‘revolution’. Reportedly, Shujaat also played a role in bridging differences between Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Tahirul Qadri’s PAT.

Chaudhry Shujaat and his cousin Chaudhry Pervez Elahi were once part of the Nawaz Sharif-led Pakistan Muslim League (PML). They developed differences with Nawaz after he favoured his brother Shahbaz Sharif for the office of Punjab chief minister following the 1997 elections. The Chaudhrys felt betrayed since they had reportedly been promised the top slot.

Later, under then military ruler Pervez Musharraf, Chaudhry Shujaat’s PML faction ruled the country from 2002 to 2007. They also joined the coalition government of the Pakistan Peoples Party, which was defeated by the PML-N in the 2013 elections.