Widening cracks in the PML-Q – and the Chaudhry household – appeared to become more pronounced on Friday after two of its key faces were found divided on political lines in the National Assembly.
The simmering tensions, which had been reportedly bubbling for months, turned into an all-out opposition when the PML-Q nominated Chaudhry Hussain Elahi as the leader of opposition in NA – just hours after the party president Chaudhry Shujaat’s son Chaudhry Salik Hussain was inducted in the cabinet of PM Shehbaz Sharif.
The party would now hold seats in both the treasury and opposition benches, fuelling speculations that the intra-party chasms have turned irredeemably sour.
The nomination of Hussain Elahi for the coveted post of opposition leader in the lower house comes against the backdrop of the PTI’s decision to leave the position vacant through its en masse resignation.
In a letter written to the NA speaker, the PML-Q — the largest party on the opposition benches after the former ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf quit the assembly — asked the speaker to appoint Elahi as the opposition leader.
The letter to the speaker carries the signatures of PML-Q lawmakers Moonis Elahi, Farah Khan, and Hussain Elahi himself.
It is pertinent to mention that Salik has taken the oath as a minister with PML-Q leader Tariq Bashir Cheema already there.
Also read: PML-Q seeks NA opposition leader slot
Hussain Elahi, when contacted, explained that the decision to contest for the post was prompted by the anticipations that the deviant members of the PTI were eying the coveted post and were scrambling to nominate someone from their own ranks.
The ‘tact’ to preemptively kill off the prospects of the disgruntled PTI faction bringing its own member was mooted in a meeting held between Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervez Elahi and PTI’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
However, it may be mentioned here that speculations about a possible chasm in the House of Chaurdhrys were swirling as early last month when the no-confidence motion catapulted the formerly ruling party’s future into uncertainty.
Amid the high political drama leading up to Imran Khan’s ouster, PML-Q’s Tariq Bashir Cheema resigned as the federal minister for housing soon after top party leadership decided to support Imran Khan in the no-trust vote.
The lawmaker, who eventually voted against Imran, said he didn’t want to support the PTI government unlike his party, which has been supporting the latter from the beginning.
‘Early polls won’t solve problems’
Meanwhile, in another display of rifts within the party, PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain noted that holding fresh elections was not the real demand of the people, adding that the core issues of the masses include poverty and inflation.
“The real problem of the people is not early elections,” Shujaat said in a video message, “the real problems of the people are to eradicate poverty, control prices and provide relief to the salaried class.”
Shujaat’s statement comes at a time when the former prime minister Imran Khan has been railing against the Shehbaz-led coalition government, pressing it to cut short its tenure and announce fresh general elections.
In his rally in Lahore on Thursday, Imran asked people to get ready for his call to gather in Islamabad in the next stage of the “real freedom” movement.
To a question about what advice did he give to his son Salik Hussain and party stalwart Tariq Bashir Cheema, Shujaat shared that he proffered the same advice that his own father had once given him.
“There should be no arrogance, no matter what the circumstances are,” Shujaat recalled his father’s advice, adding that “hypocrisy should be avoided and the politics of hypocrites should also be avoided.”