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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Can Pervez Elahi backstab Khan in Punjab?

News Analysis |

Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q’s) stalwart Pervez Elahi’s ascendance in Punjab to a coveted position of Speaker Punjab Assembly has consolidated PTI’s position in Punjab for the election of Chief Minister. Elahi’s return to Punjab assembly after years is a demotion, after serving as the Deputy Prime Minister (2012-13) and Chief Minister of Punjab (2002-2007). Ilahi decision to take on this position rather than opting for a ministerial position in the center has sparked a debate over his party’s real intentions.

Ilahi has completed a full circle after being elected as a Speaker for the second time in 2018, after a stint in 1997. Some political pundits have been speculating that Ilahi is part of the grand power struggle in Punjab to somehow overcome or reduce the PML-N’s clout in the province.  And the manner of Ilahi’s victory in Speaker’s elections has drawn first blood. He successfully got 201 votes against PML-N’s candidate- Chaudhry Iqbal, who secured147 votes.

If Elahi goes on to slowly make his party stronger and in absence of strong CM Punjab from PTI, the chances of the repeat of this episode cannot be ruled out.

In the provincial assembly, PTI has 174 seats. And collectively, after the addition of 10 seats of PML-Q, it has majority with184 members. While on the other hand, PML-N has 159 seats in the house. PTI led coalition didn’t need the help from PML-N members.  But despite the largely favorable position, PTI’s candidate received 15 votes more than what it could have obtained, had the PML-N and PPP MPA’s not voted for him.

It means that arguably other than a couple of votes from independent candidates, the PML-N legislators betrayed the party and voted against their own party’s candidate. It was a crushing blow for the PML-N—a party reeling after the defeat in the July 25 elections. Fawad Chaudhry denied these allegations.

Read more: Ch. Pervez Elahi, an ally of PTI, returns to Punjab Assembly…

He denied the charge that along with PML-Q, PTI persuaded the PML-N leaders to switch loyalties. While talking to a private media channel, he said, PTI has played no part in horse trading. Since 1985, PML-Q’s leader Ilahi has been part of the politics in Punjab and has many contacts, influence and personal relations across Punjab, which may have tempted people to vote for him out of respect.

Since the 1990’s, making forward blocks and hijacking or buying the other party legislators had remained the part and parcel of the PML-N’s politics. In Speakers 2018 elections, Nawaz’s party became victim to its own previous antics. The election as a speaker has put Elahi in a commanding position. The speculations are rife in the media that forward bock has emerged in the Punjab assembly and soon, it may reach the figure of 40. If this happens, it can even put Elahi in a very strong position to challenge Khan’s PTI for the position of CM.

Read more: Elahi and PML-Q in Punjab?

Khan is yet to name the CM candidate. It is more likely that today, after his election as a premier, the name will be announced. Will Elahi remain loyal to Khan? Can he betray his trust and blackmail him (Khan) for the ultimate position in Punjab? It would be interesting to watch because, on April 25, 1993, PML- Junejo’s Mian Manzoor Wattoo had become the CM Punjab despite only having a handful of seats and overthrew PML-N’s Ghulam Haider Wyne – who was a weak CM, in a vote of no-confidence. If Elahi goes on to slowly make his party stronger and in absence of strong CM Punjab from PTI, the chances of the repeat of this episode cannot be ruled out.