Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
May 8, 2020

Imran-Chaudhrys’ relationship

Top Story

May 8, 2020

Coronavirus or Covid-19, not only ‘locked down’ daily affairs in life but also brought politics from the street back to the ‘drawing room’ allowing big players time for some political maneuvering behind the scenes as in the case of the PML-N and the PML-Q, which on the one hand led to traditional speculations in the media and on the other caused some concerns in the ruling camp as well.

Pakistani politics is not based on principles but on ‘marriage of convenience or inconvenience’ whether it is the PTI and its allies or mainstream Opposition parties the PML-N and the PPP.

Relationship between Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chaudhrys of Gujrat is not based on certain ‘principles’ but it’s a ‘marriage of inconvenience’ since both need each other in the post-2018 election scenario, when IK, despite all his reservations about them was left with no other choice but to reach an agreement with them, which Chaudhrys now believe was not fully honoured.

The PTI and its relationship with its allies like the PML-Q, MQM-P, BNP-Mengal and Janobi Punjab Mahaz, was based on ‘give and take’ and on certain assurances. The PTI leadership had signed some three written agreements, which each party now believes have not been ‘honoured’.

Prime Minister Imran Khan and his government at present were under no serious threat but the fact remains that three of its allies ie PML-Q, MQM-Pakistan and BNP-Mengal are not happy but finding it difficult to break the ties due to certain pressure.

MQM-P last month faced unprecedented pressure when at one stage it decided to pull out support to the government. Some of their leaders confirmed to this scribe that their recent re-entry into federal cabinet was under duress after some of the coordinators of leadership were investigated.

Well-informed sources revealed that the recent developments regarding the NAB’s old case against Chaudhrys coincided with their recent meetings with the PML-N leaders including Rafiq brothers and some backdoor exchange of possibility of cooperation between the two.

The NAB also geared up its inquiry against the PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif and has now asked him to satisfy them on certain questions in regard to inquiry against him by June 2. So, he has now been given almost three weeks to reply.

So, Chaudhrys on the one hand and Sharifs on the other have once again come on the NAB’s radar. The former have decided to challenge NAB’s move in the court and decided to join hands in a move to bring some drastic changes in the NAB law, which they believe is being used for political engineering, the charge which most of the Opposition parties have labelled.

Chaudhrys supported Imran after 2018 elections when the latter was finding it difficult to make governments both at the Centre and in Punjab. The PTI had signed three written agreements with its allies after elections. One with the MQM-P, others with BNP-Mengal and with Janobi Punjab Mahaz. But the accord with the PML-Q was more verbal than written.

The PML-N missed the bus when former premier Nawaz Sharif rejected Shahbaz Sharif’s suggestion and some other party leaders for mending fences with the PML-Q in making government in Punjab.

Sources said Imran Khan personally went to Chaudhrys and sought support for Sardar Usman Buzdar. They assured him of the support and Pervaiz Elahi told Imran “I don’t know much about him but had good relationship with his father. Don’t worry we will support him and as long as you give us respect in return”.

However, the understanding was that Pervaiz Elahi would act as ‘deputy chief minister’ and their ministers ‘files’ would not be stopped or delayed. Changes in the administration and police will be made with their consent. Besides, the PTI leadership themselves offered ministry at the Centre to Moonis Elahi, about whom Prime Minister Imran Khan had reservations since the day he was allegedly provided relief during the PPP government by former president Asif Ali Zardari.

Sources said, Imran was also not happy with Ch Shujaat Hussain’s statements for the release of Mr Zardari and also asked government to send Nawaz Sharif abroad for treatment. He was also not sure about an arrangement between them and Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

However, Chaudhrys time and again assured Imran Khan that they would continue supporting his government, both at the Centre and in Punjab. They also advised the prime minister directly and also through his aides to start showing some confidence in them and trust them.

Sources said now it appears after the recent move of the NAB, Chaudhrys strongly believe that it has come after reports of their recent meeting with the PML-N’s Kh Saad Rafique and Kh Salman Rafique and reports of the expected meeting with Shahbaz Sharif, who wanted to inquire after Ch Shujaat Hussain.

Chaudhrys, who always considered themselves close to the establishment and in the past had strained relationship with Sharifs particularly after the latter left the country under a 10-year deal in 2000, which allowed former president Pervez Musharraf to consolidate his grip on power after 2002 elections in which the PML-Q emerged as the ‘King’s Party’.

Interestingly, it was also the year, when Imran Khan broke ties with Musharraf, for giving preference to alleged dented Chaudhrys over him. He then joined Opposition ranks and years later became part of an alliance, which also included the PML-N and the Jamaat-e-Islami.

When the PML-N ditched both the PTI and the JI over the boycott of 2008 elections, and an understanding reached between Sharifs and Zardari, Imran emerged as a strong Opposition leader and never looked back.

The PPP and the PML-N relationship got strained after Zardari backed out of the commitment over restoring deposed judges, which created political unrest from 2008 to 2009, and it led to governor’s rule in Punjab, which was lifted soon and judges were restored after Sharifs’ long march.

The situation allowed Chaudhrys to get closer to Zardari and Pervaiz Elahi became the deputy prime minister amidst disappointment within the PPP circles which still believe Chaudhrys backed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s hanging.

Sources said it was also during the PPP rule that when Moonis Elahi got in trouble in an alleged criminal case and was arrested and Zardari helped them out. In 2013 elections, the PPP was completely wiped out from Punjab and for the first time Imran-led PTI emerged as a strong Opposition both at the Centre and in Punjab while it formed government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, with the support of the JI.

Imran, on the advice of party leaders like Jahangir Khan Tareen, decided to go for ‘electables’ and also mend fences with Chaudhrys of Gujrat and sources said in one of the meetings also regretted his previous stance against them when he use to call them ‘chor’.

This ‘marriage of inconvenience’ may continue as long as their ‘guarantors’ have no major issue with Prime Minister Imran Khan or the PTI government and ready to give more time to Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar.

The writer is a senior columnist and analyst of Geo, Jang and The News.

Twitter: @MazharAbbasGEO