Exclusive Interview | Imran Khan's Disqualification Written On The Wall: Chaudhry Salik

Exclusive Interview | Imran Khan's Disqualification Written On The Wall: Chaudhry Salik
Chaudhry Salik Hussain is the new face of dignified politics in Pakistan, which had been a trademark of his grandfather, acclaimed politician Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi, and has been carried forward by his father, former premier Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain.

Salik is a simple, down-to-earth person and a young politician with clear credentials. Salik has always avoided the media in the past, but was always there for his people through thick and thin. He never complained to his father about the discrimination he had faced at the hands of his uncles and cousins.

The whirling family politics unfolded in the event of a no-confidence move against the Imran Khan government in April last year, and the ensuing circumstances led the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) MNA to take the uncharted course. Now, PML-Q Vice President and Federal Minister for Board of Investment Chaudhry Salik Hussain has emerged as a politician who minces no words to express his views.

In an exclusive interview with The Friday Times, the soft-spoken politician from Gujrat took tough lines on several issues, such as the politics of Imran Khan, anticipated elections in the near future, and the future politics of the Chaudhry family.

The conversation started off with the future of Imran Khan’s politics. “Well, you will see Imran Khan will be disqualified in foreign funding, Tyrian White case or any other ongoing cases,” he said.

Imran Khan is aware he'll be disqualified

Salik Hussain is not a lawyer, but he gathered conclusions from the delaying tactics of Khan’s lawyers’ to prolong his case in the court. “The way Imran Khan is running away from these cases and submitting vague statements speak for themselves. In the Tyrian case, Imran’s lawyers pleaded that the petition was non-admissible as he (Imran Khan) was no longer a member of parliament so, he asked the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to dismiss a case for his disqualification in the Tyrian White matter”.

“It seems that Imran Khan is also aware of the fact that he would be disqualified in one of these cases and it is clearly written on the wall.” He recalled how Imran Khan dragged and delayed the foreign funding case for nine years.

Salik, however, is not certain when Khan will be disqualified, but he is sure that elections for Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies would be held along with the elections of other provinces and National Assembly, in the form of general elections.
The Lahore High Court (LHC) will not be conducting the elections, as it is the constitutional prerogative of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

About the upcoming elections of Punjab and KP assemblies in the light of Lahore High Court’s (LHC) recent verdict on conducting the elections in 90 days, Salik said it is not the LHC who will be conducting those elections, rather it was the constitutional prerogative of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

“It is not the Lahore High Court which is responsible for holding the elections, it is the duty of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and other state institutions and they have to be taken on board and they are the ones who will decide when they would be ready to hold elections,” Salik said.

PTI leaders getting a taste of their own medicine

When asked about the recent arrests of Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and other leaders belonging to or allied with the PTI, Salik said that these PTI leaders are getting 'a taste of their own medicine'.

“They used to target their political opponents and didn’t shy away from registering a fake case of 15 kilograms heroin against Rana Sanauallah and even put Maryam Nawaz behind the bars for years,” Salik said, adding that it doesn’t mean the government should do the same with them. Salik affirmed that these political enmities must end somewhere, and the government should not repeat what the PTI did when the latter were in power.

Then the discussion turned to the politics of the Chaudhry clan. Chaudhry Salik Hussain looked perturbed, and struggled for the correct choice of words when he spoke on the subject.

In light of ECP’s decision in favour of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, the veteran politician is the constitutional President of PML-Q, and the party's Punjab chapter President Chaudhry Parvez Elahi cannot remove him.
Shujaat Hussain sahib will show magnanimity if his brother, cousin and nephews ask for his forgiveness.

Salik said his uncles Parvez Elahi and Wajahat Hussain, as well as cousins Moonis Elahi and Hussain Elahi, will 'face the music' for violating the PML-Q rules.

“In a show cause notice issued through party’s Secretary General Tariq Bashir Cheema, Parvez Elahi sahib was asked to clarify his unconstitutional and illegal move to merge PML-Q into Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in seven days as provincial president cannot merge the party into another one because PML-Q as a party has its own identification, vote bank, party discipline and manifesto which you had violated in a press conference.”

But Salik Hussain says what has been done is done, and nothing is considered impossible in the family. “Shujaat Hussain sahib will still forgive his brother, cousin and nephews if they ask for forgiveness,” he said.

The party rules, however, may not forgive MNAs Moonis Elahi and Hussain Elahi if they join PTI. In that case, Salik says the party would get them de-seated.

Moonis cousin or Enemy No 1?

When asked where he would contest the next general elections, Salik said that he would contest next general elections from his hometown Gujrat, which is the traditional constituency of his father and Veteran Politician Shujaat Hussain, from where Moonis Elahi was also elected as an MNA in 2018. “Nobody wants to contest elections against family members, but I will contest from Gujrat this time, and they should see for themselves whether they want to contest against me from here in Gujrat, or if they will contest for the seat from which I was elected as MNA in 2018 NA-65 (Chakwal-II),” Salik maintained.

On the question of when was the last time he met his uncles Parvez Elahi and Wajahat Hussain, Salik said that Chaudhry Parvez Elahi along with Wajahat Hussain visited his home after the July 17 by polls. "When the results were pouring in, Chaudhry Parvez Elahi sahib visited our home with uncle Wajahat Hussain, and we congratulated him as he was all set to become Punjab’s Chief Minister again", Salik said.
It was Moonis Elahi who started making personal attacks against his uncle, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain.

“Parvez Elahi sahib said that Salik and Shafaay should attend my oath-taking ceremony and the session for the selection of new leader of the House,” Salik said, adding that his point of view was that Wajahat Hussain should take his words back. Wajahat Hussain had earlier said that Salik had asked for dollars from Asif Ali Zardari, but Parvez Elahi poured cold water on the suggestion.

“We never made such statements against them, it was Moonis Elahi who made statements, saying for example that the software update of his uncle (Shujaat sahib) has been done,” Salik recalled in a disturbed tone, while adding that all such statements and personal attacks were made by others, not him or his father.

Shujaat ready to forgive Parvez Elahi, Wajahat Hussain

“I am personally very saddened by how things have played out, and so is Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain sahib. However, we have conveyed this to Chaudhry Parvez Elahi as well as Chaudhry Wajahat Hussain, that political differences aside, the personal attacks and allegations should be stopped. One should not stoop low enough to make personal attacks on one’s family, only to appease political allies,” Salik said.

Salik recalled that it was in fact Parvez Elahi who convinced Chaudhry Shujaat to convince Mian Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari to give chief minister slot to Parvez Elahi as PDM’s candidate, because he was convinced that Imran Khan would never offer him the CM slot. "So he instructed us and requested Chaudhry Shujaat to talk to different leaders to convince them to do so, since he was sure that Imran Khan would not offer that," Salik said.
Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain does not want people to think that he breaks his word or deceives fellow politicians.

Salik recalled that a day after everything was finalized with the PDM, it was decided that they would go to Bani Gala, following which the matter would be discussed together. However, Chaudhry Shujaat had committed to the PDM by then, and Chaudhry Parvez Elahi had also assured us of his decision to ally with the PDM, following speculations over his tweets that he stood with Imran Khan.

Chaudhry Shujaat has spent years in politics, and he clearly said that he did not want people to think that he is someone who breaks his word or deceives his fellow politicians, but Parvez Elahi along with Moonis Elahi and Hussain Elahi ditched him.

"We were left with no choice but to cede with PDM as we had made a commitment to them on Parvez Elahi sahib’s repeated requests," Salik said, adding that "they changed the mind after finalising everything with PDM and Dua-e-Khair".

“In fact, Moonis Elahi was convincing the legislators to join hands with PDM, and he will get seat adjustments done with PML-N in the next general elections,” Salik said.

The writer is a senior correspondent at The Friday Times with a focus on politics, economy and militancy. He also hosts the Hassan Naqvi Show on Naya Daur.