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February 1, 2020

New dialogue committee surprises many in PTI


February 1, 2020

LAHORE: The formation of a new dialogue committee of the PTI has not only come as a surprise for the PML-Q but also for some of the senior leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, who have not been taken on board over the decision.

Sources said the committee, which was supposed to hold dialogue with the PML-Q to address their complaints against the government, initially comprised figures like Pervaiz Khattak and Jehangir Khan Tareen. Both sides had reached consensus over some key issues taken up by the PML-Q which wanted its say in the administrative affairs of Punjab as well as its share in development funds.

However, all of a sudden, Prime Minister Imran Khan has constituted a committee that comprises figures like Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, Governor Chaudhry Sarwar and Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood.

This is quite interesting to note that the committee has been constituted when Tareen, one of the major figures of the PTI and part of the dialogue committee, is abroad. The new committee comprises the CM and the governor with whom the PML-Q leadership has serious reservations.

Chaudhry Moonis Elahi, in a tweet, has termed it “self-sabotaging” by the PTI whereas Speaker Punjab Assembly Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, in an interaction with senior media persons, has urged the government to avoid casting doubts on the allies. He also expressed dismay over the way the PML-Q is being treated by the government.

A senior party leader, while talking to The News on condition of anonymity, said he is unable to understand why all of a sudden this new committee has been constituted to hold dialogue with the PML-Q when things are already moving on smoothly.

“I don’t know whether it’s a conspiracy to sabotage relationship of the two allies or something else” said another senior leader of the party when contacted.

However, some senior leaders within the PTI termed the formation of the new committee justified and held the view that the PM has used his prerogative while keeping in view all aspects. “The dialogue committee includes the chief minister, the governor and a federal minister. It is a high-powered committee formed by the prime minister while keeping in view all aspects” said Shafqat Mehmood.

This is noteworthy that in Centre as well as in Punjab, the PML-Q is the major ally of the PTI government and the withdrawal of its support to the PTI may put the government on ventilator. In Punjab, the PML-Q with 10 seats has three main offices including that of the Punjab Assembly speaker and two ministries. In the early days of 2019, then the only PML-Q Minister Hafiz Ammar Yasir resigned over the interference of the Chief Minister’s Secretariat in his ministry. The deadlock between the PML-Q and the PTI was over on this issue after Naeemul Haq, PM’s special assistant, held negotiations with the PML-Q and in this episode, Bau Rizwan, Punjab environment minister, was included in the cabinet. In this way, the PML-Q succeeded in getting one more ministry.

Besides, the PML-Q has held negotiations on different occasions with the government over the inclusion of Chaudhry Moonis Elahi in the federal cabinet and it was given assurance by Naeemul Haq in this regard in January last, but the prime minister hasn’t cleared his name. Imran Khan, in his recent visit to Lahore where he addressed Punjab bureaucracy and MNAs, the MPAs of his party from Punjab didn’t hold any meeting with the PML-Q leadership which has raised eyebrows.

Moreover, the PML-Q has also objections to the interference of Chaudhry Sarwar in the affairs of Punjab as well in the districts where the PMLQ has won seats.

Federal Minister Tariq Bashir Cheema has even publicly criticized the governor for meddling in the affairs of his constituency and Chaudhry Parvaiz Elahi had urged Tareen to ‘control’ Sarwar. The inclusion of Chaudhry Sarwar in the committee has raised concerns in PML-Q quarters.

Out of the various concerns shown by the PML-Q, the major one is the delay in the release of development funds by the PTI government due to which many uplift projects have not been initiated.

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