News Analysis | Pervaiz Elahi Hops Over To PTI. What’s The Big Deal?

News Analysis | Pervaiz Elahi Hops Over To PTI. What’s The Big Deal?
Banned from the PML-Q, Chaudhry Parvez Elahi has joined the PTI. His ally Fawad Chaudhry, warmly welcomed Elahi into the folds of PTI during a press conference on February 21, and announced that Elahi has ‘finally’ decided to join his party.

“This is not a legal and moral shift. It is a move based on power play because Elahi sees Moonis’ future in the PTI. Imran is the main vote getter at present,” says analyst Nasim Zehra.

Elahi’s move is not surprising. But it would be difficult to pinpoint what ratcheted up tensions between the fellow party member of PML-Q, or the King’s party as it is popularly known. It’s a bit of a family mystery. Perhaps, it’s a tussle between the next generation hungry for politics, but getting only a small share of crumbs to peck on.

The PML-Q's politics heated up last year after differences emerged between Hussain and Elahi over the issue of support for the PTI and PDM government. Hussain wanted to support the PDM candidate Hamza Shehbaz as the Punjab chief minister, while the PTI had put its weight behind Elahi’s candidature.

Elahi tilted towards the PTI in January this year and declared that consultations were underway on a possible merger of PML-Q with PTI. Enraged, Hussain suspended Elahi’s party membership. Not giving up, Elahi mustered the support within the party and got himself elected as the party president. The move was deemed “unconstitutional” by Tariq Bashir Cheema and Chaudhry Salik Hussain as the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was currently hearing a case regarding intra-party polls.

The bickering over politics between the Hussain and Elahi factions within the party continued while Punjab fought over the chief ministers office that ultimately led to dissolution of the provincial assembly.

Elahi announced he was joining the PTI along with 10 other former PML-Q MPAs while standing next to Fawad Chaudhry. Answering a question on if he was given a hint by the establishment to join PTI, Elahi said: “If the establishment has given a hint, it’s good. I [will] try that everyone moves along together.”

Senior journalist Suhail Warraich says Parvez Elahi and Imran Khan will have to balance the existing contradictions – between the former’s pro-establishment stance and the latter’s anti-establishment war. “Parvez Elahi wants to be a part of a bigger party. Elahi secures a possible leadership role in Punjab and Khan wins a strong candidate in in the province. It’s a cushy position for both to be in.”

However, Zehra says, old PTI stalwarts in Punjab will not allow Elahi to move beyond a certain limit. “They have held negative views about him for too long. Don’t forget that Khan called him a dacoit. Let’s see how the PTI creates space for him. They may also use his pro-establishment stance to PTI’s advantage. It’ll be a tough one for Parvez and Moonis Elahi.”