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December 1, 2020

Relations between PTI, PML-Q: Tranquility prevails for now

National

December 1, 2020

ISLAMABAD: “For now, there is calm, tranquility,” is how a senior Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) leader remarked to The News on condition of anonymity after a recent meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Chaudhrys of Gujrat -- Shujaat Hussain and Pervez Elahi. He agreed with the general impression that relations have been put back on the road to normality following the meeting.

It has been obvious for some time that relations between the coalition allies have been strained. But despite the acrimony, the governing alliance has remained intact.

On Tuesday, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervez Elahi made telephonic contact with former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to condole his mother’s death. The elder Chaudhry was quoted as saying to the former prime minister that he had met his mother twice. “She was a loving and polite woman and always gave love and respect to me.” The Chaudhrys also inquired after the health of Nawaz Sharif, who said that he was suffering from a lung-related infection and was getting treatment.

Earlier, when Shujaat Hussain was admitted in the Services Hospital Lahore, PML-Nawaz Vice President Maryam Nawaz had prayed for his good health and expressed her best wishes for his speedy recovery.

A day after the Chaudhrys’ telephone conversation with Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister met Shujaat Hussain and Pervez Elahi to inquire about the PML-Q president’s health. The PML-Q leader said that their relations also came under discussion, with the focus on removing the Chaudhrys’ grievances.

Although the Chaudhrys and other PML-Q leaders have been raising their concerns and voicing their objections against the federal government, at no stage had the junior coalition partner voted against it. They had remained loyal during the approval of the federal budget and other important legislation, including the laws pertaining to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Pakistan Medical Commission, Islamabad High Court and other subjects. However, to show their annoyance, they had been boycotting the dinners and gatherings hosted by the prime minister.

According to the grapevine, there have been informal contacts between the PML-Q and PML-N for cooperation in the Punjab Assembly against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) for quite some time. There has, however, been no confirmation of such a breaking of ice from either side.

Wednesday’s discussions have helped quell such speculation, as the PTI and PML-Q have again become firm allies and vowed to remain with each other for the remaining tenure of the present dispensation. The meeting served as a damp squib for the opposition parties, which had been hoping to wean the Chaudhrys away from the PTI. In their heart of hearts, they wanted the differences to aggravate so that they could take advantage of the divisions. For the time being, however, this does not seem to be happening.

The failure to induct PML-Q member of the National Assembly Moonis Elahi, son of Pervez Elahi, in the federal cabinet has long been a serious bone of contention between the two sides. The Chaudhrys had held the view that their party had been promised two cabinet slots at the time of forming the coalition but were given only one. However, the Chaudhrys have made it known that they were not interested in Moonis Elahi’s inclusion in the cabinet.

A strong ruling alliance is equally beneficial for both the PTI and PML-Q. Given the precarious numerical scenario in the Punjab and national assemblies, both are dependent on each other to keep the two governments in place.

A sticking point that has to be tided over at a later stage is the law under which the next local government elections will be contested. The PML-Q does not approve of the law in its present shape while the PTI is insistent on keeping it as it is. However, since there are no signs of early local polls, this issue will remain on the backburner and will come up only when a decision is taken to hold the local elections. The Chaudhrys are known for their honourable family traditions, norms and values dating back to the days of their patriarch, the late Zahoor Elahi. They do not hesitate in condoling deaths in the family of foes and expressing best wishes to ailing political leaders, even if they are their political adversaries.