EDITORIAL: We all knew it was coming but many of us have acted surprised. Not only has Chaudhry Pervez Elahi surrendered his claim to the presidentship of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), he has also joined Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) as its president.
The 10 others who were his vote bank in the Punjab Assembly have also joined PTI in their personal capacities. This is no merger per se. Given that the PML(Q) chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain had annulled Elahi’s basic party membership because of their growing differences on a variety of issues, Elahi was perhaps left with no other option.
“I have always supported Imran Khan and will do so in future as well,” he announced as he came out of a meeting with PTI chief. Asked by a journalist whether or not the ‘establishment’ had cajoled him into joining PTI, his answer was: “I am a man of dialogue and compromises and like everyone to work together”.
This togetherness has been a hallmark of the PML-Q politics ever since the Chaudhrys formed this party or faction after parting company with Nawaz Sharif-led Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) following the 1997 general elections when the Sharifs denied the Chaudhrys the office of chief minister of Punjab.
The Chaudhrys welcomed the ouster of the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif by army chief Gen Pervez Musharraf in 1999 in a bloodless military coup, joining the latter’s government as his principal political supporters or backers from Punjab, the country’s most important province.
Changing political loyalties or executing mergers is nothing new to the Muslim Leaguers or their factions. The All-India Muslim League split into two factions in 1927 regarding the issue of the joint electorates, but came together two years later.
Today, there are more than half a dozen ‘Muslim Leagues’ and each one of them claims to be the true successor to the All-India Muslim League.
In this case the immediate cause of Elahi’s expulsion from the PML-Q was his refusal to party president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain’s dictate through which he was required to lend no support to the then prime minister Imran Khan battling against vote of no-confidence. But in actuality this clash was not as much national politics-oriented as it appeared to be.
Perhaps it had more to do with the fact that over the years the younger generation of the Chaudhrys had become political rivals in their secure constituencies in Gujrat, Mandi Bahuddin and Chakwal.
Since in these constituencies, like everywhere else in this region, people vote for personalities and not for their parties, Elahi won’t be a loser on the seats that go to him or his candidates.
But it is his third position in the PTI hierarchy that will earn him challenges of leadership as was the case with his predecessor Makhdoom Javed Hashmi. Another problem he is likely to face is adjustment of seats for the 10 former members of Punjab Assembly who too have joined PTI by following in his footsteps.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023