The ruling PTI used what appeared to be the long-promised ‘trump card’ by nominating PML-Q leader Parvez Elahi as its candidate for the position of provincial chief executive, just hours after the PML-Nawaz-led opposition submitted a no-confidence motion in the provincial assembly against Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar.
According to sources, PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz is to blame for the party’s likely loss of support from the ruling coalition’s key ally, the PML-Q. The allies are alleged to be resisting the opposition’s efforts to unseat Prime Minister Imran Khan through a no-confidence resolution due to a substandard offer to the Chaudhrys.
“Some leaders in the PPP and PML-N are blaming Nawaz Sharif and his daughter for not showing flexibility in conceding the PML-requests,” Q’s a senior member of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) who participated in the talks with the PML-Q told Dawn on Monday.
“For the remaining term (of the existing assembly), the PML-Q leadership desired the chief minister’s post, as well as up to 20 seats in the next term.” “The PPP’s top leadership — Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari — agreed to these demands, but the elder Sharif and Maryam were not willing to budge,” the leader said, adding that the father-daughter duo had told the Chaudhrys that Mr Elahi could be considered for Punjab’s top position only for a three-to-five-month interim period after the PTI government was sent home.
There was no definitive agreement between them on seat adjustments for the next elections.
Mr Zardari is said to be angry with the Sharifs for refusing to agree to a more lucrative offer to the Chaudhrys, which led to the PML-Q declaring its support for PM Khan, who gave his allies what they wanted.
Another opposition leader claimed that despite PPP co-chairman Zardari’s best efforts, the vast trust gap between the Sharifs and the Chaudhrys could not be addressed.
Mr Elahi’s “political manoeuvering” was also a source of concern for the PML-N leadership, according to a PML-N insider. “The top leadership is getting concerned that if Mr Elahi is appointed chief minister, he will solidify his party at the expense of the PML-N,” he said.
Meanwhile, Yousuf Raza Gilani told Dawn that the combined opposition had not given up hope and was still negotiating with the Chaudhrys. “We have the necessary numbers to depose the prime minister, but we need the government’s supporters to back the no-confidence resolution against him.” He maintained, “We are hopeful that the PML-Q leadership will finally join us.”
Azma Bokhari, the Punjab communications secretary for the PML-N, also stated that the opposition was still in contact with the Chaudhrys and that their decision to support the prime minister may be reconsidered.
Meanwhile, there are rumours of a schism among the Chaudhrys over whether or not to stay in the coalition, with Mr Shujaat preferring to shake hands with the PML-N, while Mr Elahi sees the PTI as a preferable alternative because of the CM offer.