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EDITORIAL: As things stand today, the right to govern at federal level and in Punjab is essentially a numbers game, and the most beneficial number for this is with the Chaudhry Shujaat-led Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q). Although the party does not have a large number of seats in the National Assembly and Punjab Assembly, Imran Khan’s PTI could not have formed its government in Punjab without the Chaudhrys of Gujrat’s support. These Chaudhrys know it well and have exploited this to the hilt. Their latest gain is induction of Monis Ilahi, a son of Chaudhry Pervaiz Ilahi, into the federal cabinet as minister for water resources. Of course there was an agreement between the two parties in this regard. But that did not happen, prompting the Chaudhrys to call for fulfilment of their “legitimate demand”. The prime minister was reluctant to induct Monis Ilahi into his cabinet as minister and had asked for an alternative. But courtesy some critical developments over the last six months, Monis happens to be an “alternative” too. Not only did Chaudhry Pervaiz Ilahi as Speaker of Punjab Assembly help PTI win the five seats in the Senate without contest, he also saw to it that the federal budget is passed without much hassle. The PML-Q also stood behind Prime Minister Imran Khan to help him win the vote of confidence in the National Assembly. Accepted, in coalition governments the minority parties wield extra weight and quite often force their way, but the Chaudhrys have done it with unmatched astuteness.

There exist inter-provincial water conflicts in the country. How he would deal with this challenge we will know quite soon. It is interesting to note that he is a strong advocate for construction of proposed Kalabagh Dam. But he hasn’t been given the ministry of water resources because of his interest in this field; he is there because the slot was lying vacant since the exit of PTI’s Faisal Vawda. Hopefully, this demand being met, the PTI leadership will not come anymore under the PML-Q persuasions and pressures as it had exerted in Punjab quite a number of times. Only recently, the Punjab Assembly was made to pass the PML-Q members’ private bills to lend legitimacy to private universities, putting aside stiff opposition of Punjab Higher Education Commission and Pakistan Higher Education Commission. As the era of “Naya Pakistan” dawned in the wake of the 2018 general elections the PTI’s commitment for clean governance was the new normal. But time proved logic in the adage that politics is the art of the possible.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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