Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q) President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, the man whose letter supposedly turned the tide of the Punjab chief minister’s re-election, went on record with his “own” reason for opposing the PTI-backed candidature of his cousin, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, saying he could not support “anyone who criticised state institutions”.
He clarified that while Elahi “was, is and would remain” his candidate for the office of chief minister, but he (Shujaat) could not allow him to become “the nominee of PTI”.
According to Dawn, Shujaat cited this reason for his opposition to PTI backing for Elahi in a series of tweets that were shared from Shujaat’s official Twitter account.
Elahi’s son, Moonis, confirmed that the account does indeed belong to the PML-Q chief and is operated by his son, Salik.
In his tweets, Shujaat wrote: “I cannot support anyone criticising state institutions because he [Shujaat] has cordial relations with the institutions for the past three decades. The state institutions guarantee stability in Pakistan.”
Moonis, however, claimed that Shujaat was under “immense pressure” and he politely refused to support Elahi as a candidate of Imran Khan.
Speaking to media persons after his bail hearing on Saturday, asked him to elaborate as to what kind of pressure was being exerted on Shujaat, Moonis said the reporters should put this question to him.
Moonis said he had gone to see Shujaat and asked whether he had written the letter on which he replied that he did.
“I have instructed the PML-Q MPAs not to vote anyone in the chief minister’s election being held in Punjab Assembly,” he quoted Shujaat as saying.
As Moonis contested that he [Shujaat] wanted Pervaiz Elahi not to win, the latter stated that Elahi should become the chief minister, but not as a candidate of Imran Khan.
“But when I told him that in such a situation he will lose the election, the PML-Q president kept mum,” Moonis stated.
Shujaat’s letter addressed to Punjab Assembly’s deputy speaker/presiding officer on the election day states that PML-Q president had instructed all 10 MPAs of the party, including CM candidate Pervaiz Elahi, “to poll their votes in favour of Hamza Shehbaz”.
The letter also carried copies of PML-Q president’s directions to party’s 10 MPAs issued on the election day. However, none of these letters have been shared with the media thus far.
In his tweets, Shujaat suggested that all political leaders should subordinate their personal interests to the national interests so that the country could come out of the quagmire of crises. Otherwise, he said, the country would further be “divided into ideologies” and become “prey in the hands of people working for their vested interests”.
He said the country was already facing a critical situation.
Referring to confrontation within the house of Chaudhrys of Gujrat, Shujaat said political conflict should not be confused with personal disagreement and stressed that all should stop politics of confrontation and work for the betterment of the country and its security and well-being.
“Anyone who gets a chance to rule, should contact political opponents and jointly work for the security and stability of the country,” the PML-Q president concluded.
In a related development, Shujaat had a meeting with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari on Saturday to discuss the political situation after the chief minister’s election.
Insiders say this late-night meeting had decided that Hamza Shehbaz should not take oath as CM late in the night and do so in the morning. They claimed that the meeting was of the view that the case against the deputy speaker’s ruling might be stretched to several dates.