The pragmatist Chaudhry

April 21, 2024

Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain is known for his politics of reconciliation and dealings with the powers that be

The pragmatist Chaudhry


haudhrys Shujaat and Parvez have been in politics since the 1980s, when Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi, an industrialist-turned-politician, was murdered in 1981. Considered as an epitome of unity, the family has played a crucial role in national politics through decades until the recent split down the middle after the family infighting came to surface.

Chaudhry Shujaat’s policy of mitti pao (let bygones be bygones) didn’t work this time around. Despite his concerted efforts to convince his cousin Parvez Elahi not to throw his lot with Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, the latter was persuaded by his son Moonis Elahi to merge his party with the PTI. Chaudhry Shujaat had been in favour of keeping their party identity intact. Chaudhry Shujaat’s sons, Salik and Shafay, later convinced their father to join hands with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.

Appointed minister for industries in 1985 in the government of then prime minister Muhammad Khan Junejo, Shujaat twice served as interior minister with (then prime minister) Nawaz Sharif. Later, he would become the prime minister during Gen Pervez Musharraf’s rule. He and Parvez Elahi had decided to join Musharraf in 1999 when PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif struck a deal with Musharraf to go into exile for 10 years. The duo formed a new party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid. Parvez Elahi became chief minister of the Punjab in 2002.

Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain is known for his eagerness for reconciliation and dealings with the powers that be. He has been a witness to all the ups and downs of the turbulent political history of Pakistan. He has always been in the good books of the military establishment and enjoyed power throughout a long political career. Though his party has faced multiple challenges lately, the PML-Q has always managed to win a couple of seats from his hometown Gujrat and in some other parts of the province. It has managed to negotiate key positions in every government. During the PTI rule, it was represented both in the provincial and national governments.

In his book, Chaudhry Shujaat has highlighted key political events of the country. He contends that the country’s top secret agency – the Inter-Services Intelligence – helped Nawaz Sharif enter politics in the 1980s. He complains that Nawaz Sharif, an ally for long, failed to honour the commitments made to some of his allies and ignored some of those who had once helped him. Chaudhry Shujaat also hits out at Nawaz for his failure to tolerate dissent, his utter disregard for the establishment and his ‘dictatorial’ mindset.

Chaudhry Shujaat says Nawaz Sharif ditched him on several occasions. After the 1997 elections, he did not make his cousin Parvez Elahi the chief minister of the Punjab. Instead, giving the position to his brother Shahbaz Sharif.

The Chaudhry family had been hostile to the Pakistan Peoples Party for decades. However, the bitterness ended after the two parties negotiated for a political alliance and his cousin Parvez Elahi became the first deputy prime minister of the country in 2012.

Chaudhry Shujaat joined hands with the PML-N after his cousin Parvez Elahi accepted the PTI chairman Imran Khan’s offer to become the PTI chief minister of the Punjab after Khan had been ousted from power through a no-confidence vote. Chaudhry Shujaat, who had always been on the right side of the military establishment, held several meetings with Parvez Elahi, who had once vowed that his party would elect Pervez Musharraf as president in uniform ten times, to advise him not to go against the military establishment’s decision about Imran Khan. Parvez Elahi chose otherwise and decided to support Imran Khan. Now he is behind bars facing several cases. His son Moonis Elahi is also wanted by different agencies in various corruption cases and is currently abroad.

Moonis Elahi is considered the driving force behind Parvez Elahi’s recent decisions. Chaudhry Shujaat’s sons, Salik and Shafay, have similar influence over their father.

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

The pragmatist Chaudhry