We will support Imran's decisions, says Elahi; PML-N leader tells PTI chief to think 10 times before taking risk
Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervez Elahi has assured PTI Chairman Imran Khan of standing by his side as the opposition in the provincial assembly mulls ways to overthrow the PTI-PML-Q-led coalition government in the province.
Khan — who called off his long march to Islamabad last week — has announced quitting assemblies across the country, including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab.
The party's leadership, according to PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry, has approved the dissolution of assemblies in both provinces, but the final decision will be made after further consultations.
The opposition — PML-N and the allied parties — has said that it would not back down from a challenge, but stressed that snap polls were not in the country's favour.
In his meeting with Khan at the PTI chief's Lahore residence Thursday, Elahi once again pledged his loyalty and stressed that he "owed" the Punjab Assembly to the former prime minister.
Elahi said he would not "hesitate for a moment" when Khan orders him to dissolve the assembly as he will keep supporting all of the PTI chief's decisions.
He added that the elements behind creating misconceptions in the camps of PTI and PML-Q would "fail again" as he slammed the opposition for claiming that they were in contact with the government's lawmakers.
"Imran Khan is indispensable," CM Elahi said and challenged the opposition to table a no-confidence motion against him. "They have failed before and will fail again."
The PML-Q leader said the opposition is "daydreaming" if it thinks it can overthrow the Punjab government. He added that the opposition does not have the required numbers.
"If the Punjab Assembly is in session, then the governor's rule cannot be imposed. It is my honest advice to the opposition: please read the rules of business."
"Whatever Imran Khan says, I will act without hesitation. Punjab Assembly [is a small thing], I will give my life for Imran Khan," the chief minister said.
In conversation with journalists after the meeting, PTI senior leader Pervez Khattak said that the meeting was good "overall" and that Khan would make the final call on all matters.
"Chaudhry and us, we are all one. Khan sahib is our leader. All the decisions that have been made will be unveiled later," the former KP CM said.
Khattak said both the leaders have reached a consensus on all matters and that CM Punjab has agreed to follow Khan's decisions. "He [Elahi] stands by his words."
The PTI leader also said that he did not want "groupings or divisions" within the party as he noted that the establishment has committed to staying out of politics.
In response to the possible dissolution of assemblies, PML-N senior leader Ayaz Sadiq warned that the ousted prime minister should "think 10 times before taking a risk”.
Speaking on Geo News' programme “Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath”, Sadiq, who is the federal minister for economic affairs, said the coalition government was devising a strategy to deal with the situation if the two assemblies are dissolved.
“We offered the chief ministership to Pervaiz Elahi,” he said, adding that his future is in his own hands.
If other allies of the PTI can part ways with the party then why can’t Elahi, he added.
The coalition government will conduct by-elections if the PTI dissolves assemblies in two provinces, the PML-N leader clarified.
In conversation during Geo News' programme "Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Saath", PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira said if the coalition parties fail to stop the dissolution of assemblies, then they will move towards elections.
"Separate elections have never been held for the Centre and the provinces, but will undergo this experiment as well," Kaira, who holds the portfolio of advisor to prime minister on Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, said.
Sources, earlier in the day, told Geo News that several Punjab lawmakers belonging to the PTI have advised the party's chairman against dissolving the provincial assembly immediately.
The development came after the party's high-level committee submitted a report in relation to the dissolution of the Punjab Assembly to Khan, sources said.
The lawmakers advised the PTI chief not to immediately dissolve the assembly, citing the ongoing development projects in their constituencies, the sources said.
The report regarding the dissolution of the Punjab Assembly was put before a meeting today, which was chaired by PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Party leaders Mian Aslam Iqbal, Mian Mehmood-Ur-Rasheed, Hammad Azhar, Ejaz Chaudhry, and others attended the meeting.
As per the report, according to sources, some lawmakers have advised against the immediate dissolution of the Punjab Assembly as they believe development tenders worth billions of rupees have been opened, and multiple projects are near completion in their constituencies.
The lawmakers have also recommended that the timing of the political move should be effective so that it pushes the federal government to call general polls, sources said.
Moreover, to hold further consultations, the PTI chief has summoned a session of the PTI's Sindh and Balochistan parliamentary parties on Sunday.
The sources added that the decision regarding the dissolution or PTI quitting all assemblies would be made by the PTI chief after the session of their parliamentary parties on Sunday.
Khan has also tasked the party's legal team to analyse the legal aspects of the matter and prepare for any predictable complications.