Parting ways

January 22, 2023

It was widely believed that the close relationship between cousins Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, was unbreakable

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obody may have imagined that Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, former prime minister and president of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PMLQ) and head of the famous family from Gujrat, would one day suspend the basic party membership of his cousin, Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, the former Punjab chief minister, and his nephews, Moonis Elahi and Hussain Elahi. However, this came following an announcement about plans to merge the PML-Q into Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

It was widely believed that the close relationship between cousins Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, popularly known as the Chaudhry Brothers, was unbreakable. However, the bond was damaged after the vote of no-confidence against former premier Imran Khan in April 2022. For the first time, Chaudhry Parvez Elahi and his son, Chaudhry Moonis Elahi, along with Chaudhry Wajahat Hussain (Shujaat’s younger brother) and Hussain Elahi (Shujaat’s nephew) disobeyed the direction of the family elder and president of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, who had decided to join forces with the 13-party Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM). Family ties notwithstanding, it appears that their political paths are separate and growing farther.

A show cause notice issued by the party’s secretary general, Tariq Bashir Cheema, asks Chaudhry Parvez Elahi to explain within seven days his reported move to merge the PML-Q into Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf. It pointed out that as provincial president, he lacked the authority to merge the party into another.

Earlier, in July of last year, the Central Working Committee, in a session chaired by Senator Kamil Ali Agha, had decided to remove the party president, Shujaat Hussain, and secretary general, Tariq Bashir Cheema. The action was disputed and is still pending with the Election Commission of Pakistan.

Chaudhry Salik Hussain tells The News on Sunday that the move by a provincial chapter to remove the party’s central president and secretary-general was illegal. “It was in violation of the party constitution. It had no legal grounds,” he says.

Such actions on both sides can prove the final blow to the family unity. Despite their political paths diverging last year over the issue of support for former premier Imran Khan, there had been mutual respect and consideration. It now seems that the divergence of their political paths is complete and permanent.

A former provincial minister known for being close to Chaudhry Parvez Elahi has told The News on Sunday that Moonis and Hussain had persuaded Parvez and Wajahat to join the PTI. He says a formal announcement to this effect is imminent.

“Moonis sees his future with Imran Khan. They are now negotiating with the PTI for seats for their members in the upcoming elections from Gujrat, Gujranwala, Mandi Bahauddin and Chakwal, for both National and Provincial Assemblies,” a close aide to Parvez Elahi, says.

According to PTI insiders, Imran Khan is eager to welcome them into the PTI’s fold.

A former PML-Q MNA from central Punjab says that Chaudhry Parvez Elahi is personally in favour of a PMLQ-PTI alliance but contesting elections from the PML-Q platform. He believes that this will leave him in a better position politically. However, following some recent developments, it seems that he might now be in favour of joining the PTI. In a recent statement, he has claimed that Imran Khan has offered him the party presidency.

What political rivals failed to achieve for decades was accomplished by two young members of the family, Moonis and Hussain.

A former PTI MNA from south Punjab says that the first-tier leadership of the party is not particularly happy with the development. He says they worry that if Moonis Elahi and Parvez Elahi join the PTI, they are likely to replace some people among Khan’s closest aides like Fawad Hussain, Asad Umar and Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

“Given their ability to sway Khan, they are likely to be calling the shots once they join the PTI,” the former MNA said.

A former PTI minister from KP says, “No leader in the PTI other than Imran Khan has better credentials than Parvez Elahi. He has already served as deputy prime minister, chief minister and speaker. This is making some of the senior PTI leaders feel insecure.”

Some media reports have suggested that if Imran Khan is removed from party chairmanship or disqualified for public office, Parvez Elahi would be in a position to take over the party.

“Chaudhry Parvez Elahi will either be a candidate for chief minister after the general elections or ask Imran Khan to nominate his son for the coveted position,” a senior PML-Q leader who has been a provincial minister says.

Speaking to The News on Sunday, several colleagues close to Shujaat Hussain, including a federal minister, claimed that the PML-Q faction led by him sees its political future with the PDM. They say they are likely to seek seat adjustments while maintaining their party identity.

PML-Q secretary general Tariq Bashir Cheema says that Moonis Elahi may soon be appointed the PTI central Punjab president.

Asked whether the PML-Q could be re-united, Cheema said that it appeared highly unlikely. “How can Shujaat Sahib talk to those who call him chala huwa kartoos and unfit to make political decisions?”

“I am shocked that Parvez Elahi sahib made no effort to reunite the family when he became the chief minister,” Cheema says.

PML-Q insiders, including a federal minister close to Shujaat Hussain, say the split started with differences between Moonis Elahi and Salik Hussain. They say the elders became involved only later.

The surprise came at the time of the no-confidence motion in April last year as Parvez Elahi turned his back on the head of the family, Shujaat, who had given his word to join hands with PDM to former president Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif after having consulted Elahi. They had also offered dua-i-khair together and Elahi was all set to become PDM’s candidate for chief minister following a vote of no confidence in the Punjab Assembly against Sardar Usman Buzdar.

What formidable political rivals failed to achieve for decades was accomplished by two young members of the family, Moonis and Hussain. They managed to persuade Parvez and Wajahat to defy Shujaat and join hands with Imran Khan.

Shujaat upheld his promise to Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif. His son, MNA Salik Hussain, and the party’s secretary general, Tariq Bashir Cheema, voted against Imran Khan. Moonis and Hussain, however, remained with Imran Khan.

Cheema says Shujaat was in tears when Parvez Elahi decided to join the PTI. The day before his meeting with the then prime minister, Imran Khan, Shujaat had held successful meetings with leaders of the PML-N and PPP. Shujaat reportedly made a phone call then to Moonis Elahi, who said that he had another plan and would reveal it on his return.

The writer is a journalist based in Lahore who reports on politics, economy and militancy. He can be reached on Twitter at Hassannaqvi5.enjoys

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