[Comment] Chaudhrys of Gujrat: Divided politically but united behind Gen Bajwa

 
December 03, 2022

By Umar CheemaISLAMABAD: When the Pakistan Democratic Movement unveiled its intention to bring a no-confidence motion against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government, the then Army Chief Gen Qamar...

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By Umar Cheema

ISLAMABAD: When the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) unveiled its intention to bring a no-confidence motion against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government, the then Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa went to Prime Minister Imran Khan with a plan to avert it. Change in Punjab would avert a move by PDM to dislodge Khan in the Centre, he argued.

Khan, earlier non-receptive to this idea, was inclined to the proposal. He sought names who could be potential replacements of Buzdar. Bajwa proposed two names: Aleem Khan and Chuadhry Pervaiz Elahi. Khan voted in favour of the former. Aleem Khan was flown from Lahore to Islamabad. By the time he reached, Khan changed his mind, Bajwa later shared this story with a visitor.

This deliberation took place in January this year, almost three months before the no-confidence motion was moved. A newspaper story that month, quoting the PDM sources about the likely move, had alerted the government which followed the above-referred consultation. What happened afterwards remains unclear. However, Chaudhrys were indecisive till a day before they said ‘yes’ to Khan in response to his offer of CMship.

At that point, they were weighing offers being made by PDM and PTI. Since PMLN were to be the lead party in Punjab in case of a coalition government, Chaudhrys were apprehensive of their future partnership given their past differences. On the other hand, they were not very comfortable with the PTI either as Khan had reluctantly accepted Chaudhry Moonis Elahi in his cabinet. Even after induction, he assigned the task of his probing to Shehzad Akbar, Khan’s accountability czar.

In this background, Chaudhrys were indecisive as to who to join. Moonis then told a journalist that they were indecisive because there was no clear indication from the establishment. “They are not attending calls (when we approach them for guidance),” he said. Asked who they tried to reach, he didn’t name the person. This discussion took place in the morning and they held a meeting in the evening with Khan where they announced to join.

The next day, Moonis had a chance encounter with the same journalist. When asked how they decided to go with PTI, he didn’t offer a plausible reply. However, the reports which were making rounds by that time suggested the decision was taken after a call from Lt Gen Faiz Hameed. Now, Moonis has revealed that the decision was guided by Gen Bajwa.

According to an informed source, when Moonis and Pervaiz Elahi went to meet Khan in Banigala, they received a call from Faiz who urged them to join hands with PTI. As they were confused, they made a call to Gen Bajwa to report what Faiz said. The army chief asked about their meeting with Asif Zardari a night ago. They said it was not very encouraging. He asked what they wanted now. They said they had made up their mind to join forces with the PTI and he asked them to do what they had planned.

Gen Bajwa considers Chaudhrys of Gujrat as his most trusted allies in politics. This was obvious from his discussion. Three months back, he told a visitor that he didn’t want to destabilise the PDM government. Had he wanted that, he would have asked Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain to pull out from the ruling coalition. Right now, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi is with PTI whereas Chaudhry Shujaat is with PDM through his three MNAs. Although politically divided, Chaudhrys are united in standing behind Gen Bajwa.



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