PTI Old Guard, Parvez Elahi Resent Each Other Already

PTI Old Guard, Parvez Elahi Resent Each Other Already
LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PMLQ) leaders who had joined Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) along with former Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi on Tuesday evening believe that it was one of the biggest coup the PTI had pulled since the party started gaining momentum in 2011 but Imran Khan led PTI mistreated them, The Friday Times (TFT) has learnt.

Speaking to TFT, a former legislator from central Punjab, who had also served at a key position during PTI’s tenure in Punjab, said that Imran Khan sahib should have invited Parvez Elahi sahib and us at Bani Gala for the formal announcement of joining PTI instead of a press conference with Senior Vice President of PTI Chaudhry Fawad Hussain.

“It seems that Khan sahib took some sort of revenge or gave Elahi sahib a cold shoulder after his remarks about Hussain in an alleged audio leak in which he had put the blame of assembly dissolution on Fawad and had also abused him,” a former MPA said while adding that as per the past practice all major inclusions to the party were made in Imran Khan's presence and he used to make them wear a party scarf.

Agreeing with him, another key leader who had served in Buzdar’s cabinet and is also a close aide of Moonis Elahi and Parvez Elahi told TFT that in fact Hussain didn’t mention Elahi’s name being considered for the post of party President. “It was Elahi who stopped him and whispered in his ear to talk about that as well after which Hussain announced that party top tier leadership has finalized Elahi’s name for the slot of Party President and a formal announcement about it would be made soon.

Sources who belong to the inner circle of Elahi said that, “Parvez Elahi is very much concerned that why his appointment as party President was not clearly announced and that is why in the official press release issued by him it was mentioned that he is made the central president of PTI just to assert pressure on Imran Khan so that he wouldn’t shy away from his earlier commitment of making him the party president”.

Elahi 'left with no choice' except joining PTI

The insider says that after Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain’s letter to Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and notification, in which he had removed Elahi from the post of Party’s Punjab President, and also expelled him from the party on Tuesday after he failed to submit his reply to show cause notice asking him to explain his position regarding the press conference in which he had said that he is merging the party with PTI – which he cannot do as a PML-Q as a party has its own identification, vote bank, party discipline and manifesto, which he had violated in that press conference.

“Chaudhry Parvez Elahi ideally wanted to remain an ally of PTI and doesn’t wanted to merge in PTI but he is left with no choice after Shujaat Hussain dismissed him from the party,” a senior leader who belongs to Elahi led group said while adding that Moonis Elahi and Hussain Elahi were also putting pressure on him to join PTI as they feel that it would politically benefit them in the upcoming elections.

PTI leaders feeling ‘insecure’ after Elahi, Moonis joining

Political insiders from PTI told TFT that many top tier leaders were not happy after a group led by Elahi joined the PTI fold as they believe that it would minimize their chances of becoming chief minister in Punjab if the party comes to power again in the next general elections.

Although Elahi had said time and again that in every difficult time they stood with Imran Khan and the party and they stood firmly with him, Imran Khan’s inner circle warned him that If Elahi could ditch his cousin and head of the party Chaudhry Shujaat he could ditch him too. “He has only joined PTI as it has been his long term dream to see his son Moonis Elahi as the next CM of Punjab,” sources quoted a senior PTI leader telling this to Imran Khan during one of the deliberations.

Sources maintained that Imran Khan is also warned that he is the same guy who after joining hands ditched the founding President of PML-Q Mian Azhar and hijacked the party, who happens to be the father of senior PTI leader Hammad Azhar, after joining hands with General Musharraf and he also used to say that he will get Musharraf elected for 10 times.

“Later he (Elahi) ditched Musharraf as well. So, you cannot trust him blindly,” a senior leader said.

Speaking to TFT, senior PTI leader and speaker Punjab Assembly Sardar Muhammad Sibtain Khan rejected the impression that senior PTI leaders were ‘insecure’ and said that all of us were happy on Elahi joining PTI as it would further strengthen the party because he is a seasoned politician and PTI could benefit a lot from his experience.

“He remained loyal to Khan sahib and PTI as an ally and even sacrificed his provincial government,” Khan concluded.

‘Elahi stood with PTI through thick and thin’

Agreeing with Khan, Senior Vice President of PTI Chaudhry Fawad Hussain also paid rich tribute to Elahi, and said that he stood with PTI through thick and thin despite pressure from different quarters.

“PTI appreciates the role played by Elahi in the recent crisis."

Hussain said that that pressure was put on the MPAs but all the MPAs and Elahi have stood by Imran Khan,

“Ch Parvez Elahi’s secretary Muhammad Khan Bhatti and Moonis Elahi’s cousin Zaigham Gondal were abducted and we have no idea where they are right now,” he said.

‘Elahi also warned about Imran’s attitude’

Likewise, a senior leader belonging to the Elahi led group also warned him to get assurances from Imran Khan, as it has been witnessed in the past that he had ditched senior party leaders and made Usman Buzdar the chief minister of Punjab.

“He could do the same again,” a senior leader warned Elahi.

“Moonis is a very cunning politician who has mastered the art of convincing his father, Elahi and family elders including Wajahat Hussain and Hussain Elahi also loves to follow his footsteps,” a senior PTI leader said while adding that he had sensed it that the PTI’s graph is going up and they could benefit from it by joining PTI as it would keep their prospectus high in the next general elections.

Speaking to TFT, political scientist Dr. Marium Kamal said that the main drive behind political alliances are their mutual or individual interests, and history supports that PML-Q masters the art of alliance. A ten-member party, based on one family from Gujrat, always lacked a popular public vote bank.

Dr. Kamal believes that their political career raised on the party-political alliances in power vis-à-vis high positions in the government.

For her, Elahi’s expected move is very organic to his political insight, especially in the backdrop of family feud between Elahi and Shujaat Hussain.

“On the other hand, PDM’s political oppression through which PTI is currently streaming, needs more support especially in Punjab,” she opined.

‘Elahi embraced a ceremonial position’

However, Dr. Kamal believes Elahi embraced a very ceremonial position as PTI president, third under the party hierarchy.

“This position was vacant since 2014, when Javed Hashmi left the party,” the political scientist recalled adding that knowing the fact that his party lost their bargaining power, through which they gained ascendance to high positions in the previous setups.

Secondly, Dr. Kamal said he also fetched 10 ex-MPAs into the party fold, leaving Hussain more vulnerable. Actually, it’s not only PML-Q and PTI’s political alliance, on the ground it is the breakdown of PML-Q.

For her, Imran Khan’s narrow course of direction is not allowing him to do much, despite his Punjab and KP elections constitutional demand, which is undeniable at any forum, still the ruling authorities are unjustifiably contradicting it.

‘Minus Imran formula at play’

The political scientist believes that elections will be announced after the formula of ‘minus one’. “PTI is all about Imran Khan and PDM can't match his threshold,” she said while adding that such expected alliances come in the hour of need, it’s a mutual interest because both parties have fewer other options to explore,” she concluded.

‘PTI is strengthened after Elahi’s joining’

Talking to TFT, Dr. Hasan Askari Rizvi said that now when Elahi led group will contest the elections on PTI’s tickets it would increase the number of seats in parliament for them as previously when these electables used to win these seats were considered PTI seats.

“Elahi led group could increase the chances of achieving PTI’s ultimate goal of securing two third majority for PTI in the next general elections,” Dr. Askari said.

Agreeing with him, senior journalist Ahsan Raza, who has closely observes Elahi’s politics, said that the joining of Elahi and 10 former MPAs of the Q League in PTI ranks will strengthen PTI's prospects of gaining a definite majority in the coming general elections.

Huge Blow to Shujaat and PML-Q

Raza believes that the real damage will be inflicted on the PML-Q Shujaat group. “The PML-Q has been reduced to Chaudhry Salik Hussain and Bashir Cheema”.

“In the upcoming polls, Chaudhry Salik will face troubles if he doesn't have the support of the PML-N, which is least likely as the local cadres of the Noon League are always hesitant to support Chaudhries,” he opined while adding that the Elahi group will also face resistance from the Core PTI cadres within the PTI.

“Once elections are done, Imran Khan will reduce him to nothing,” Raza concluded.

‘Elahi might help improve PTI ties with establishment’

Political insiders who are in favour of Elahi’s joining, said that he may be able to bridge the gap between PTI and the establishment, as Elahi and his family enjoy a good relationship with the military establishment and they openly admit it too.

“Parvez Elahi and Moonis could play a decisive role in cooling down the things between PTI and the establishment, which would help PTI in controlling the damage,” they concluded.

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.