Saturday December 03, 2022

Chaudhry Shujaat to remain PML-Q’s president till ECP's next hearing

CEC Sikandar Sultan Raja adjourns hearing of the commission until August 16

August 05, 2022
PML-Qs Secretary General Tariq Basheer Cheema (L) and President Chaudhry Shujaat. — Online/File
PML-Q's Secretary General Tariq Basheer Cheema (L) and President Chaudhry Shujaat. — Online/File

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday said that former prime minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain would retain the post of PML-Q's president, while federal minister Tariq Bashir Cheema will remain its secretary-general.

A four-member bench of the ECP headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja heard Shujaat's plea against the intra-party election.

During the proceedings today, CEC said ECP is issuing notices to the parties in the case — PML-Q leader and his brother, Pervez Elahi and Punjab Secretary-General Kamil Ali Agha and both — Shujaat and Cheema — would retain their positions till the next hearing.

The proceedings were adjourned by the CEC till August 16.

'Shujaat and Cheema still hold their offices': Shujaat's lawyer

Shujaat's lawyer told the four-member bench that his client got to know about a meeting of the party's central working committee meeting, which through an unsigned letter, had decided to remove the ex-PM and Cheema.

He told the bench that a central working committee does not "exist" in the party and the leaders' decision to hold an intra-party election was also illegal.

"The members were not aware of the meeting; there is no list of the members who participated in the meeting; therefore, it is illegal," the lawyer said.

He stressed that Shujaat and Cheema still hold their offices and demanded action against the leaders who called themselves members of the central working committee.

The lawyer said that the central working committee does not have the authority to remove the party president from office, while they can leave office through voluntary resignation.

He apprised the bench that the last elections of the PML-Q were held in 2021 and every person contesting in those polls was elected unopposed.

"No office bearer can be removed. They will cease to hold office only if they resign or die."

Rift within the party

The fault lines in the party became visible when Shujaat refused to support Elahi during the Punjab chief minister's election, saying that he would not back PTI Chairperson Imran Khan's candidate — even if it was his brother.

As a result, Elahi lost the election to PML-N leader Hamza Shahbaz by 10 votes as they were rejected following Shujaat's letter to former deputy speaker Dost Mazari.

But Hamza's victory was short-lived as the Supreme Court instated Elahi as the chief minister.

Following these developments, in late June, the Central Working Committee (CWC) of the PMLQ decided to remove party president Shujaat from office, citing health issues.

“It has become necessary to isolate Ch Shujaat to save the party from destruction,” said Senator Kamil Ali Agha while talking to the media after the CWC meeting in Lahore.

But yesterday, the PML-Q's Central Executive Committee reposed confidence in the leadership of Shujaat and decided to send a show-cause notice to Senator Agha and others for holding an "illegal meeting" in Lahore.

The party’s provincial presidents disassociated themselves from the Lahore meeting and condemned the illegal dismissal of Shujaat and Cheema. The meeting passed a resolution unanimously to express confidence in the leadership of Shujaat.

It was decided in the meeting that a legal team would be consulted to challenge the illegal move of the PML-Q Punjab chapter as it was not authorised to convene a meeting on August 10.

The meeting's participants to suspend the party membership of those participating in the Lahore meeting.