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November 5, 2019

Ch Shujaat Hussain braces to test his ‘art of appeasement’ yet again


November 5, 2019

LAHORE: Known as an effective exponent and proponent of reconciliation in the country's volatile political aena for years, former prime minister Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain has now stepped into the fray once again for "appeasement" purposes.

This time around, Ch Shujaat Hussain and his cousin Ch Pervaiz Ellahi, are trying to convince the fuming JUI-F Chief, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, that he should settle his political issues with incumbent Pakistani Premier, Imran Khan, peacefully on the table without resorting to confrontation and violence.

Just a day ago, Shujaat Hussain, head of the once widely-known King's Party, the PML-Q, had spoken to Maulana Fazlur Rehman on phone and had felicitated him for 'stealing the show' with his on-going Azadi (Freedom) March in Islamabad.

In his mid seventies and in frail health, Shujaat had congratulated Fazlur Rehman, viewing that the two main Opposition parties, the PPP and PML-N, had accepted him as their leader by riding on his bandwagon, television tickers had revealed

Research shows that on at least three more occasions during the last 14 years, Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain had embarked upon pacification missions in various regimes.

In January 2013, Shujaat Hussain and Pervaiz Elahi had arrived at Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) Chief, Dr Tahirul Qadri’s residence to try and convince him to delay or cancel his January 14 to January 17, 2013 long march against the-then sitting PPP regime.

However, the PAT Chairman had categorically declined to postpone his protest. He reaffirmed his resolve three times that his long march would be carried out at any cost. The religious cleric had emphatically asserted that he would talk to the government at the end of his proposed march in Islamabad only to discuss the formula and mechanism on how his demands could be met.

History tells us that Qadri went ahead with his long march, taking thousands of followers to Islamabad, though he negotiated in the end with the government and called off his protest. Having previously served as the 16th Pakistani Premier for just three months from June 30, 2004 to August 28, 2004 on a temporary basis during a transitional period to accommodate his predecessor, Shaukat Aziz, Shujaat Hussain’s was once entrusted with the task by the-then Premier Shaukat Aziz and Army Chief-cum-President, General Musharraf, to peacefully settle the Lal Masjid issue with his “speedy wisdom.”

During the Lal Masjid Siege, which had lasted from July 3 to July 11, 2007, Shujaat Hussain was sent on July 10 of the same year to negotiate with Abdul Raheed Ghazi, the head of the mosque and the adjacent Jamia Hafsa Madrassa in Islamabad.

Shujaat was accompanied by the-then Religious Affairs Minister, Ejazul Haq, Information Minister Muhammad Ali Durrani and another minister, Tariq Azeem, but the delegation could not negotiate with the enraged religious clerics successfully.

Shujaat Hussain, who also served as country’s Interior Minister in the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in two non-consecutive terms from 1990 to 1993 and 1997 to 1999, was first sent on mollification task in March 2005 by General Musharraf’s government to talk to the rebellious Jamhoori Watan Party leader, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, who was at daggers’ drawn with the Pakistan Army.

In April 2005, a key 48-km road from the Dera Bugti to the Sui gas installations in the restive Balochistan province was opened by tribesmen led by Nawab Akbar Bugti.

The vital artery from the dusty Dera Bugti town to Sui was closed by insurgent tribesmen after fierce clashes with paramilitary forces on March 17, 2005 had left around 70 people dead, including several soldiers.

Akbar Bugti ordered his men to lift the blockade following a series of meetings with Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, who had travelled to Dera Bugto three times. Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti had agreed to constitute a three-member committee to oversee implementation of decisions concerning Balochistan in presence of Sardar Sher Ali Mazari, Mir Bramdagh Bugti and Tabash Bugti.

Talking to newsmen after the meeting, Chaudhry Shujaat said the talks were held in the context of previous dialogues that were confined to the Sui and Dera Bugti situation. Bugti said that the meeting discussed the incidents of violence in Dera Bugti and Sui in which local people were killed and houses were damaged, adding that all those killed in the clashes had belonged to the Bugti tribe.

Speaking to reporters after holding talks with Shujaat and Mushahid Hussain after their return from Dera Bugti, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz had said that Shujaat’s meeting with Nawab Akbar Bugti was a positive step that would help restore peace in Sui and Dera Bugti.

Nawab Bugti had earlier expressed strong resentment over statements of President Pervez Musharraf, who had described him as a warlord.

On August 26, 2006, as history tells us, Bugti, was killed when his hide-out cave, located in Kohlu, about 150 miles east of Quetta, has collapsed as a result of an Army action. Nawab Akbar Bugti was killed along with his 26 comrades during the operation.