Chaudhrys pin hopes on PM as alliance hangs in balance


–Meeting between PML-Q leadership, Prime Minister Imran expected as ongoing tiff aggravates

–PML-Q attempting to pressurise govt with ‘unacceptable’ demands; seek Punjab top-slot for Pervaiz Elahi

–Leaguer Kamil Ali Agha says party only wants PTI to respect coalition partner’s concerns

ISLAMABAD: A make-or-break meeting is likely to be held between Prime Minister Imran Khan and a delegation of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) led by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain within the next few days to help resolve the apparent ongoing tiff between the two coalition partners, Pakistan Today has learnt.

The development comes on heels of reports claiming that differences are cropping up between the ruling PTI and PML-Q that is supporting the former in the centre as well as Punjab.

Cracks between the two parties started to appear last week after Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry’s remarks about creating a forward bloc in the PML-Q. The statement prompted a strong reaction from the party compelling him to apologise to the PML-Q leadership.

The PML-Q is an important ally of the government with 10 MPAs and five MNAs. As the PTI is ruling, particularly in Punjab, with a thin majority, it cannot afford losing PML-Qs’ support.

Leadership of the PML-Q has been voicing its reservations against Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, however, the situation aggravated last week when PML-Q Minister Hafiz Ammar Yasir tendered his resignation as the provincial minerals minister over alleged interference in his ministry.

After the resignation, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar visited the residence of PML-Q leader and Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi on Friday night, but his effort to resolve the issue could not succeed as the chief minister failed to convince Elahi to ask Yasir for the withdrawal of his resignation.

In his resignation note, PML-Q minister Yasir had pointed out “unwarranted interference, undue pressure and hurdles” in his ministry since he assumed the portfolio over four months ago. “Owing to undue pressure and hurdles, I can no longer perform my duties, therefore, I resign,” the minister had stated.

Sources told Pakistan Today that the Chaudhry family was trying to take advantage of the developing situation and it was pressurising the government with demands that cannot be met.

“The PML-Q has been pushing with its demands that are unjust by all means. First, they wanted two federal ministries and two provincial ministries in Punjab. However, they were politely told that it was not going to happen. Now they are sending us messages to appoint Pervez Elahi as the Punjab chief minister,” they said.

When asked which two new ministers the PML-Q wanted, sources said the Chaudhrys were seeking the Federal Ministry of Industries for Moonis Elahi and a ministry in Punjab government for another MPA from Sialkot.

“This is mere arm-twisting and blackmail and nothing else. But everyone must know that Prime Minister Imran Khan can’t be blackmailed. We would not be blackmailed come what may.”

On the contrary, PML-Q leader Kamil Ali Agha said his party only wanted the PTI to respect its coalition partner’s concerns.

“We are not after petty positions. We are not conspiring for the chief minister’s slot either. All we want is the PTI to respect its partners and fulfill the promises made to us,” he added.

To a question, Agha said that though the PTI had committed to give the ministries, PML-Q was not concerned about the slots if PTI was reluctant in doing so.

“What we want is that our concerns are addressed. We have time and again shared our concerns with the PTI leaders. Even three days back Buzdar met Elahi but nothing changed. Now we are not ready to meet anyone except Prime Minister Imran Khan. We would have to take our decisions independently if things go down,” he added.

Asked whether the PML-Q wanted to get a provincial ministry for MPA Babu Rizwan from Sialkot, Agha said it was what PTI had committed to do but was not a major issue.

“Whether it is the matter of ministry for Moonis Elahi or Babu Rizwan, we are not running for petty ministries. We only want respect and freedom for our ministers,” he added.

Explaining the reasons that led to Yasir’s resignation, Agha said there was involvement in his ministry and even the secretary had been directed not to follow the minister’s orders.

“How can a minister work under such conditions? This is pure humiliation and we won’t accept it,” he added.

“There is literally no consultation, no cooperation and no respect for our ministers. It seems as if the PTI bigwigs are not ready to tolerate us,” he concluded.