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February 4, 2020

Talks with new committee: PML-Q sticks to its guns

Top Story

February 4, 2020

LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader and Federal Minister Shafqat Mehmood on Monday failed to convince Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi to hold talks with the new negotiating team.

The ruling coalition partner, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), stuck to its demands for fulfilment of the promises, made with it earlier, according to sources.

The differences between the ruling coalition partners seemed unresolved as the PML-Q leaders have been expressing their reservations time and again.

Shafqat assured the PML-Q leadership that the PTI would honour its commitments made with its main ally and the new dialogue committee would resume the process from where it was left by the previous committee. In a one-on-onemeeting between Shafqat Mehmood and Speaker Punjab Assembly Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, the former gave the assurance that dialogue process would be resumed from the point where it was stopped with the previous committee. No other leader of the PML-Q, including party President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussein, MNAs Moonis Elahi, Saalik Hussein or others, attended the meeting, which gave rise to further doubts over the PML-Q’s trust in the new dialogue committee.

Shafqat Mehmood is a member of the new dialogue committee that has to hold negotiations with the PML-Q. Other members of the committee are Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar and Governor Punjab Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar.

The new committee has been formed by Prime Minister Imran Khan to replace the previous committee that comprised senior party figures like Jehangir Khan Tareen and Pervaiz Khattak.

The PML-Q leadership believes that the dialogue process with the PTI was going on smoothly till the new committee was formed over which the Chaudhrys expressed their reservations. The PML-Q leadership has serious reservations over the names of Governor Ch Sarwar and even CM Sardar Usman Buzdar, under whom, they believe that the Punjab affairs are not being run in the way they should be.

In the meeting held at the residence of Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, the PTI envoy assured the PML-Q leader that all the issues that had been discussed with it would be addressed amicably.

Sources said the PTI member assured Ch Pervaiz Elahi that the government holds its allies in great esteem and would address their issues in every possible way.

Shafqat told Chaudhry Pervaiz that agreement between the PTI and the PML-Q would be honoured.

Sources said in the meeting, the PTI leader also expressed gratitude of Ch Pervaiz Elahi for supporting him in the general elections, both in 2013 and 2018 which Shafqat won. This is the same area from where Chaudhry Moonis Elahi, son of Ch Pervaiz Elahi, had also contested in 2008 and lost after a very tough contest.

The PML-Q leader, according to sources, conveyed his message to the prime minister that being a major ally of the government, the Muslim League wanted to extend complete support and cooperation to it but, at the same time, it would not forego its rights. He also conveyed that allies should not be viewed with doubts as continuation of the coalition was in mutual interest. Elahi called Prime Minister Imran Khan an honest person, saying his party wanted the PTI-led coalition government to run smoothly and complete its constitutional term

Sources said the PML-Q, being the major ally of the PTI government in Punjab and Centre, wanted its say over the administrative affairs of Punjab as well as share in the development funds. Already, it has two ministries in Punjab.

The PML-Q leadership is unhappy with the administrative management in Punjab and believes that bureaucracy is still obliging PML-N MNAs, MPAs that clearly showed its tilt in favour of Nawaz League. The Chaudhrys believe that special attention must be paid to Punjab administration and management which otherwise could cost the government seriously.

Shafqat Mehmood, after the meeting, told The News that there existed complete harmony between the two allies and all the core issues would be settled through dialogue process.

He said that new committee would resume talks over all the matters which came under discussion with the previous committee.

Sources said Shafqat Mehmood also conveyed the message of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, who insisted on implementation of the recommendations tabled by the previous dialogue committee comprising members including Jehangir Tareen and Pervaiz Khattak.

The PML-Q leader said he would prefer a direct meeting with PM Imran Khan. The dialogue committees of both sides did not finalise the schedule of the next round of talks, sources added.

While pointing out the talks held between the government and the PML-Q with the second committee, Ch Pervaiz said that making changes creates distrust. He urged the federal government not to establish the tradition of changing stances.