Naveed Aman Khan
PAKISTAN Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) has put a proposal before Jamiat
Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman that if Punjab chief ministership is promised to PML-Q, the Party would be willing to support an in-house change of the government. Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain has had several meetings with Maulana to find solution of the situation created in the wake of the Azadi March in Islamabad. Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain came to negotiate with a message from the Establishment that if Maulana wraps up his March, an in-house change might be an option. Maulana has made it clear that he does not trust these assurances and will not move unless the proposal is materialised.
Maulana has told Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain that he could convince other opposition parties on giving PML-Q power share in return for supporting Shehbaz Sharif for the position of Prime Minister. Once all opposition parties agree on this proposal, only then Maulana will make the announcement from the container and end the March. Maulana’s Azadi March will end because of negotiations between Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Maulana. It is clear as to how the JUI-F could benefit from the situation. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf would receive a blow if such a plan works out. Secondly, the new set-up will not continue for long and ultimately lead to fresh elections. Meanwhile, former President and Co-Chairman of Pakistan People’s Party, Asif Ali Zardari, has sent a message to Maulana that he should not wrap up the Azadi March before achieving his objective of removal of Imran Khan.
One thing I have been told by politicians from across party lines is that Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain is the personification of what a politician is. He is mild-mannered, shrewd, a pragmatist and understands the powers-that-be better than anyone else. They have real political agenda other than to protect their influence in Gujrat and other domains in Punjab in particular. Those seats are going to be crucial for anyone forming the next government. In a scenario where we may be heading towards a hung parliament and most probably a no-name prime ministerial candidate popping up at the last moment, people like Chaudhry Shujaat are the backroom deal makers who will yield disproportionate power.
A former Nawaz ally who then became Musharraf’s right hand man for politics and later on allied with the PPP-led government in 2008, Shujaat has this time around cut a deal with PTI on seat adjustment. The two parties have said that they had decided to join hands in order to get rid of “the corrupt mafia”, an apparent reference to PML-N. Days before the verdict that disqualified Nawaz Sharif in July 2017, Shujaat, spurred on by rumours of divisions within PML-N, invited all factions of the Muslim League to unite under his leadership so that they could force Nawaz to resign. However, Nawaz stepped down following the court’s ruling and Shujaat failed to unite PML factions. Later on, in 2018, Shujaat’s party secured the position of Chief Minister after PML-N Sanaullah Zehri stepped down in Balouchistan. Recently, his autobiography hit the stores, in which he has said that Pervaiz Musharraff and Tariq Aziz made a plan to ensure PMLQ’s defeat in the 2008 election after striking a deal with PPP.
Shujaat has historically supported the construction of the controversial Kalabagh dam project, saying it had become imperative for the country. He believes that the future of our coming generations depends upon these projects and hence instead of opposing these and hurling threats to blow them up every one should join hands for the completion of these projects. The PML-Q has also supported an idea of an independent Kashmir, with Jammu given to India and Azad Kashmir to Pakistan, creating an independent state in the main valley. He also believes that this is the best resolution of the dispute provided China agrees to it. He uttered this statement for the first time in 2002. In late 2014, Shujaat also has presented himself for accountability and a trial under Article 6 of the Constitution for having supported Musharraf’s decision to proclaim emergency on Nov 3, 2007. But nothing could happen against him at all. He is lucky enough of having flanked with outspoken associates like Chaudhry Pervaiz Ilahi, Tariq Bashir Cheema and strong potential choice for the slot of future Foreign Minister Yousaf Khan Hoti. In current situation Chaudhry Pervaiz Ilahi seems to be the best choice to grip and control Punjab the deciding factor. Previously during his chief ministership he has proved his political, diplomatic and administrative capabilities. To politically counter Shahbaz Sharif Chaudhry Pervaiz Ilahi is the only strong politician in Punjab. The cards are in strong hands of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Maulana and they are playing quite marvelously. Both are out of Parliament but in real power.
— The writer is book ambassador, columnist, political analyst and author of several books based.