Trial by vote

January 15, 2023

Having managed to retain the majority support in the provincial assembly, Parvez Elahi faces another test

Trial by vote


o say that it was a stormy session of the Punjab Assembly on Wednesday night would be an understatement. Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi proved claims by the opposition that he lacked support of the lawmakers false and managed to secure a vote of confidence. He polled 186 votes needed to secure the trust of the house. There had been fears that he might lose the support of a few lawmakers but he managed to get the requisite number. Following the historic vote, the Lahore High Court was informed on Thursday that the governor had retracted earlier orders to denotify Elahi as chief minister. The opposition in the assembly had announced on Wednesday that it refused to accept the vote.

However, the matter doesn’t end there. Elahi has yet to meet the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan’s demand to dissolve the assembly. There are also other contentious issues. The Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) is quite clear about its relations with the establishment. Parvez Elahi has already stated that the establishment does not want the dissolution of the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies. Some PTI leaders, including Fawad Chaudhry, also have said the latter is pressuring the PML-Q leaders.

Ever since the PTI and the PML-Q forged an alliance to form the provincial government, giving the top slot to Parvez Elahi, the allies have been doubting each other’s intentions, especially on the issue of diversion of development spending to Chaudhry Parvez Elahi’s constituency. Nevertheless, the alliance has survived all odds.

Lately, Chaudhry Parvez Elahi appears to have been led by his son Moonis Elahi, who advised his father to part ways with his uncle Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain. Some PTI leaders say that Chaudhry Parvez Elahi is aiming to strengthen his political clout in the Punjab by seeking adjustments on more than 30 provincial assembly seats for the next elections.

The Chaudhry is up for a test again. Imran Khan wants him to dissolve the assembly as a last resort to force the PDM government to announce an early date for general elections. However, this hasn’t gone well so far. Parvez Elahi, who earlier ditched an alliance with the PDM offering him the same slot to grab the offer by Imran Khan at the eleventh hour, is being asked by PTI leaders to dissolve the assembly or part ways.

While Pervez Elahi has tried to assure Imran Khan that he would not waste a minute to dissolve the assembly on his call, he has also said that dissolving the assembly was not a good idea as this would benefit the opposition more than the PTI and the PML-Q. He believes that the assembly should complete its tenure and the government should focus on development projects it has initiated.

Trial by vote

The difference over the assembly dissolution issue has dented relations between the two allies. Moonis Elahi has jumped in and tried again to handle the situation that has arisen out of new differences over the PTI’s decision to dissolve the assembly. The PTI lawmakers believe that Parvez Elahi will try his best to delay the dissolution of assembly through legal squabbling.

There are perturbing signs on the political horizon for both the PTI and the PML-Q as new alignments are emerging in all four provinces. Several political leaders are joining other parties in Balochistan and efforts are under way to bring old colleagues closer in Karachi. Similar developments are happening in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. These events have added to the worries of the PTI. Seasoned politician Jahangir Tareen is about to become active in politics. Chaudhry Sarwar and Aleem Khan have shown interest in Tareen’s proposal to either form a new group or join one of the major political parties.

Chaudhry Parvez Elahi wants Imran Khan to develop good relations with the establishment. He doesn’t want to annoy his long time ‘supporters’. Nevertheless, the alliance is at a crossroads.

Imran Khan has lately tried to placate the military through statements that he does not want to go all out against the establishment. He has even said that the top agency can be used to end corruption in the country. He has also pledged not to join hands with those he calls ‘looters’ for the sale of national economy or political stability.

He has said that attempts at political engineering do not deter him. “I will remove all the red lines being marked around me,” he has said.

*Late on Thursday evening, Chief Minister Punjab Chaudhry Parvez Elahi sent a summary to the Governor Punjab advising him to dissolve the provincial assembly of the Punjab. A picture of the summary was also tweeted by Elahi’s son Moonis Elahi.

The writer is a senior broadcast journalist. He has worked with several news channels in Pakistan

Trial by vote