In order to ramp up pressure on the government, Nawaz League (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday sought the help of another PTI allied party, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P).
The meeting was the opposition’s renewed efforts to oust Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government as a day earlier former president and People’s Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari called on the leaders of government’s allies, the Chaudhrys of the PML-Q.
On Shehbaz’s suggestion to part ways with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), MQM-P senior deputy convener Aamir Khan and former Karachi mayor Wasim Akhtar, who called on the PML-N president at his Model Town residence in Lahore, sought time to respond after discussing with the party’s Rabita Committee.
The same day, both the MQM leaders met PML-Q leaders Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Parvez Elahi and Moonis Elahi at their residence and decided to ‘go ahead together’ in the future.
In a related development, the PML-N has reached out to the PML-Q leadership also, paving the way for Shehbaz’s meeting with the Chaudhrys with whom he has never enjoyed cordial relations.
Meanwhile, after their meeting, Shehbaz and Aamir Khan held a joint media talk where the former said he asked the MQM-P to think like Pakistanis and consider breaking off their ties with the government forthwith “as we are running out of time”.
“I have asked them to support the opposition for the sake of the people of Pakistan, who are suffering because of poor policies of the Imran Khan government,” Shehbaz announced and expressed the hope that the MQM, which was an ally of the PTI government now, would become its rival tomorrow.
“I heard their take on the matter,” the opposition leader in the National Assembly said, sounding optimistic about earning the MQM-P’s support.
On Imran Khan’s plans to reach out to the masses, Shehbaz said the premier would be confronted with the ground realities when he dared to launch a mass contact campaign.
Aamir Khan said the opposition had been asked to share its agenda first before seeking support from his party.
When asked about supporting the opposition’s planned no-confidence move against the government, he said it was premature to comment on it.
“We will discuss our meeting with Shehbaz Sharif with the MQM’s Rabita Committee for a decision,” he said and added that his party was holding meetings with all political parties for consultation on the local government bill. He admitted his party had reservations over the soaring inflation that had made the lives of the people difficult.
Meanwhile, talking to reporters after meeting with the Chaudhrys, Aamir Khan said: “We have come to inquire after Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain. Every political party has its own ideology. We have agreed to move ahead with mutual consultation, especially on local body elections and other important issues.”
He denied the notion that the MQM-P was pressing the government for more share in power through such meetings, saying they were politicians and could meet each other often.
Replying to a question on the opposition’s efforts to woo government allies, Punjab Assembly Speaker Parvez Elahi said: “We are an ally of the government and want it to complete its term. We advise the government for the solution of people’s problems. As an ally, it is our duty to offer suggestions to the government.”
When asked about Asif Zardari’s proposal in a meeting with him and the PML-Q president, Parvez Elahi said: “We are with Imran Khan and Asif Zardari had come to our home to inquire after Chaudhry Shujaat.”
Replying to another query, he said: “The question of no-confidence move should be asked from the opposition parties as we are in the government.”
About the opposition’s fresh moves to oust the government, Aamir Khan and Parvez Elahi said: “Let something cook first,” referring to clarity about the opposition’s agenda.
A source privy to the Zardari-Chaudhrys meeting told Dawn that the former premier had not sought “categorical support” from the PML-Q for ousting the PTI government. “Zardari just assessed the depth of his relations with the Chaudhrys in this meeting,” he said.
On the other hand, Shehbaz Sharif, who has been mandated by the PML-N’s Central Executive Committee to establish contacts with other political parties to develop a consensus at the national level to topple the PTI government, is likely to meet the Chaudhrys soon.
“The PML-N leadership should meet the PML-Q. At the moment, I cannot confirm Shehbaz Sharif’s meeting with the Chaudhrys, but as the opposition is reaching out to the government’s allies, such a meeting cannot be ruled out in the coming days,” Shehbaz’s spokesman Malik Ahmed Khan said.