PML-N divided over Elahi’s chief ministership in Punjab

Varying opinions on the matter reveal undecided matters within the opposition’s camp

RAMEEZ KHAN March 18, 2022
The PML-N leaders observe that the economic debt was hitting the roof while the national currency was facing constant devaluation. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE


The only agreed mainstay of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) efforts to align with members from across the political aisle was the ouster of Prime Minister Imran Khan through the vote of no-confidence, senior party leader Pervaiz Rashid said on Thursday amid deepening political crisis.

The PML-N leader was responding to a question pertaining to the political cost of handing over the chief ministership of Punjab to Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid’s (PML-Q) Pervaiz Elahi.

The Express Tribune spoke to leaders of the opposition party to gain further insight into the developments emerging amid the tensions that linger on the political horizon ahead of the no-confidence motion.

The former senator said that decisions pertaining to the provinces would be taken in due course, adding that the Punjab Assembly speaker must be asked about the claim for the provincial top slot.

When asked about the formation of a national government, Rashid maintained that Shehbaz Sharif had explicitly told the interviewer that he was only voicing his personal opinion, which would be presented to the party and therefore, the matter is still open to discussion.

Read more: Haven't left govt, nor joined opposition, says Elahi

Similarly, the opposition party’s secretary general, Ahsan Iqbal maintained ambiguity on the issue, expressing complete ignorance about whether the party president had offered the slot to the PML-Q leader. He pointed out that since he was not part of the meeting between the two, he had no information on the matter.

Asked to comment on Rashid’s statement, Ahsan elaborated on the underlying rationale of the latter’s statement. “He [Rashid] actually meant that these issues would be settled later.”

Talking about the political cost of the alleged offer, he said that it would not impact their party’s position in Punjab. He said that while the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the PML-Q had the right to bolster their positions in the province, this could not happen at the cost of PML-N.

A day earlier, a provincial leader of the PML-N conceded to the notion that the PML-Q was offered the top provincial slot on the insistence of PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari. The leader had revealed that while their party was not ready to make this offer, given the nature of coalitions, the PML-N had to concede. He also pointed out that this move had party supremo Nawaz Sharif’s blessings.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a PML-N parliamentarian said that giving the chief ministership to Elahi was a not wise option. He highlighted how Elahi had kept courting Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) lawmakers to his party and might do the same with the PML-N.

He also wondered why such a compromise was made when “everything was coming our way”. He believed that giving tickets to PTI turncoats would be an unpopular act with the grassroots workers of the PML-N.

Elahi, whose prospective chief ministership, according to his own words, is crucial for the success of the no-trust move, had reportedly also spoken about assemblies completing their parliamentary term. Shehbaz, on the other hand, said that he and his brother wanted elections to be held at the earliest.

Considering the varying opinions on the matter, it appears that a lot remains undecided in the opposition’s camp.

Marryium Aurangzeb, the spokesperson of the PML-N, was asked to comment on the alleged offer, but she did not respond.

It is worth mentioning here that speculations have arisen regarding the possibility of a no-confidence motion in Punjab to wrap up Chief Minister Usman Buzdar’s government, but nothing concrete has come to the forefront.

PPP’s Parliamentary Leader in Punjab Hasan Murtaza said asked Buzdar to join the PPP, saying that he knows that his days are numbered, and he should make the announcement “before it is too late”.


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