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August 6, 2018

Elahi tasked to dent PML-N, make forward bloc in Punjab

Top Story

August 6, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Leading member of the Chaudhrys of Gujrat Pervaiz Elahi has a tough job to do in Punjab courtesy of his new office of provincial speaker.

During incarcerated Nawaz Sharif’s second stint as prime minister, Pervez Elahi worked as speaker of the Punjab Assembly from February 19, 1997 to October 12, 1999, till imposition of martial law by Pervez Musharraf.

Starting in 1985, the Chaudhrys of Gujrat remained solid part and parcel of the Sharifs’ bandwagon till 1999 when they landed in trouble due to Musharraf’s adventure. At times, the Chaudhrys had been quite uneasy with the Sharif brothers for not giving them the due share in government. After martial law, they midwifed the PML-Q out of the PML-N and ruled during Musharraf’s entire tenure.

After the PML-Q won the 2002 general elections, Pervaiz Elahi became the chief minister of Punjab. The other Chaudhry, Shujaat Hussain, served as the stopgap prime minister for a couple of months when Mir Zafarullah Jamali was made to step down. Shujaat Hussain held the top executive office till the election of Shaukat Aziz in a by-poll to get this top slot from him.

When the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) won the 2008 parliamentary polls, the PML-Q became its ally and Pervaiz Elahi was installed as the deputy prime minister, an office that never existed in Pakistan and which had no constitutional or legal backing. However, Asif Ali Zardari accorded recognition to the Chaudhrys by nominating Pervaiz Elahi as the deputy premier.

It is after some two decades that Pervaiz Elahi has returned to the office of the speaker he had held. It is the Chaudhrys’ choice that Pervaiz Elahi is becoming the Punjab speaker. When his son Moonis Elahi will be elected to the National Assembly from the Gujrat seat that his father will vacate, he is likely to be named as the federal minister.

In a highly tight numerical scenario thrown up by the July 25 elections, even three seats (that will become four if Moonis Elahi wins the by-poll) hugely matter for PTI Chairman Imran Khan to be elected as prime minister.

As Punjab speaker, Pervaiz Elahi will have an important assignment to wrestle with. His main task will be to wean away maximum PML-N lawmakers to demoralise and weaken his principal rival party. The PTI will certainly clap with both hands if he will be successful in creating a forward bloc in the PML-N. It will provide all kinds of support to him to disintegrate the PML-N. However, by doing so, it may be ignoring a hard fact that whatever gains Pervaiz Elahi will make by nibbling at the PML-N will be for his PML-Q and not for the PTI.

In view of his senior parliamentary position, the speaker has abundant opportunity to interact with legislators of all parties. During these conversations, amiable Pervaiz Elahi will use his skills to dent the PML-N and will particularly target its discontented elements. Because of their family background and traditions, the Chaudhrys of Gujrat are not known for annoying anybody and have always been friendly and accessible to all and sundry. Unassuming nature and humility has always been their strong forte. They never allow usual snobbery and arrogance that some senior politicians nurse to come close to them.

Pervaiz Elahi’s ability and talent apart, the PML-N has amply demonstrated single-mindedness and endurance in the face of an unprecedented hard time. It was ardently hoped by its tormentors that it will split due to Nawaz Sharif’s Supreme Court-imposed disqualification in July 2017. But it did not happen to their chagrin. A similar expectation was attached to the life ban imposed on the former premier to vie for a public office and on continuing as party president. But there was no negative impact on the PML-N.

Its adversaries believed that the PML-N will break up after Nawaz Sharif’s conviction by the accountability court. But they were disappointed. Only weathercocks left it but its hardcore remained intact. Pervaiz Elahi has taken upon his shoulders a major mission after the PML-N has already weathered severe storms. Even while facing unparalleled odds at the husting, it was successful to show its popularity in the elections to a great extent. Any party confronted with such unevenness would have been largely decimated.