Aleena Imran has an MBA from NUST and has worked as an HR professional at companies like MPCL, Coke, Jazz, and LMKT. In her spare time, she runs her home-based baking business. Apart from being an avid reader, she enjoys writing, photography, and art.
In a shocking turn of events in Pakistani politics, former Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi announced on February 21st, that he would be joining PTI, along with 10 former PML-Q MPAs. This announcement came almost immediately after PML-Q, namely Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, announced the dismissal of Pervaiz Elahi from all party posts, and the termination of his basic party membership.
But the question is, is this smart politics, or has the family feud gotten all too real? It is no secret that Pervaiz Elahi is an opportunist. Just before the no-confidence motion proceedings last year, when the alleged regime-change operation was taking place, Elahi boasted about receiving lucrative offers from the PDM, and stated that he was waiting to see what PTI was going to offer him.
During an interview with journalist Mehr Bukhari, he discussed how he had received offers of Punjab’s chief ministership, as well as an electoral alliance (including seat-to-seat adjustment) by the PDM. When asked why he had not yet accepted the offer, he stated, “The wait is that what would the government (i.e., PTI) do. Maybe the government might do the same”. This statement led to a lot of backlash at the time, since it clearly showed that Elahi’s loyalty was only to those who served him well, but the outrageous proceedings surrounding the no-confidence motion against Imran Khan drowned this travesty eventually.
Subsequently, Pervaiz Elahi and Moonis Elahi joined the PTI camp, while Chaudhry Shujaat and his loyalists sided with PDM. The divide became even more visible in July last year, when the voting took place to decide Punjab’s Chief Minister. Instead of supporting his family member and long-time political ally i.e., Parvez Elahi, Chaudhry Shujaat openly supported PML-N’s Hamza Shahbaz.
Shujaat and his loyalists did give diplomatic statements in August last year, about the party needing to be united after the election debacle. Tariq Bashir Cheema, speaking on behalf of Shujaat, said that, “Power and position are transitory but I would request Chaudhry Parvez Elahi not to divide the family and not to break the party.” However, the flimsy olive branch did not seem to work on Parvez Elahi.
The situation became even more dire in January when on January 15th, Pervaiz Elahi discussed the possibility of merging PML-Q with PTI. He also discussed how his son Moonis Elahi believed that the merger would strengthen both parties. This angered Chaudhry Shujaat, and he sent a show-cause notice to Pervaiz Elahi. Elahi responded a week later by convening the general council, and removing Shujaat from the party presidency.
Soon after, in response to Shujaat’s petition, the ECP ruled in his favour and reinstated him. They also equipped him with powers to terminate Elahi’s membership. The official notice that was circulated by PML-Q regarding Elahi’s termination cited the lack of response to the show-cause notice as the main reason. “Elahi has once again violated the party’s code of conduct by ignoring the show cause notice sent to him,” the notice reads.
All things aside, the Pakistani populace needs to understand that Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi are seasoned politicians, with astute decision-making when it comes to the political arena. Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain’s (and Chaudhry Parvez Elahi’s) family comprised business oligarchs who were influencing the likes of Ayub Khan and Yahya Khan back in the day.
Shujaat became a member of the Parliament in 1981, which means that he now has over four decades of political experience, that too in the tumultuous political landscape of Pakistan. It is also pertinent to remember that Shujaat was President of PML-N in Punjab at one point in time, and that today’s PML-Q was born as a splinter group of PML-N. He was ‘fiercely loyal’ to Nawaz Sharif, before moving on to Pervez Musharraf, and eventually becoming a major ally of Zardari and Yousaf Raza Gillani.
The same is the case with Pervaiz Elahi. He was also ‘loyal’ to Nawaz Sharif, and was given high hopes of becoming CM of Punjab by Nawaz, only to be gravely disappointed when Nawaz made his brother Shahbaz the CM instead. He did eventually become CM when PML-Q was in power, and was later quite cosy with PPP when they came to power.
The reason for giving a brief political background for the two cousins is simple. The current moves that they are making on the political chessboard could very well be a façade. No one knows whether the next elections will see PTI winning, or will result in another coalition government with members of the PDM in power – one thing is for sure, however: the Chaudhrys will win.
If PDM is in power, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain will continue to take favours from them, in exchange for his ‘loyalty’ through the hard times. If PTI is in power, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi will enjoy the benefits. I’m sure these favours and benefits will extend to the entire family (even distant relatives included) – and it should not be surprising for the Pakistani population to eventually see them both enjoying the results of their ‘strategy’ and ‘hard work’, hand-in-hand.
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