Thursday Jan 26, 2023
After the emergence of apparent differences within the party ranks, the Pakistan Muslim League–Quaid (PML-Q) general council on Thursday removed Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain as the party chief.
The decision was made during a consultative meeting of the party held at the Pakistan Muslim League House situated at Davis Road in Lahore.
Brother of Shujaat, Chaudhry Wajahat Hussain, has been given the command of the PML-Q. The meeting also removed Shujaat's close aide, Tariq Bashir Cheema, and selected Kamil Ali Agha as the central secretary-general of the party.
The development comes days after Shujaat had suspended the basic membership of Chaudhry Parvez Elahi — for his statement about a possible merger with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
A show-cause notice served to Elahi mentioned that a meeting of the PML-Q — chaired by Shujaat — noted that the provincial president — Elahi — did not have the authority to merge the party with PTI.
"Your [Elahi] party membership is suspended until the explanation," read the notice. A copy of which has also been sent to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), it added.
In response to the latest move, PML-Q leader and Minister for National Food Security Tariq Bashir Cheema said that Shujaat is the party's president and "serious members" still stand with him.
In a press conference, Cheema said that Shujaat had already suspended Elahi's membership and that when the time is right, he would reveal "why such a drama is taking place".
"Why didn't he merge his [faction] into the PTI? This is an unconstitutional move. The Election Commission of Pakistan has already reserved a decision in this regard."
He added that the party was deliberately divided into two factions. Cheema noted that a majority of PML-Q's National Assembly members were supporting Shujaat.
"However, they [Elahi and his supporters] are just gathering people from Lahore and nearby areas and appointing the party's president and secretary," the federal minister said.
The minister said that PML-Q's general council would meet in the next 10 days in Islamabad, where Elahi and his backers will understand how "popular Shujaat is".
Cheema further added that presidents of all four provinces stand with the ex-prime minister. Playing down the removal of Shujaat, he said: "The move is just like PTI's Balochistan chapter removing Imran Khan from the chairmanship."
For his part, federal minister Chaudhry Salik Hussian — who is also the son of Shujaat — said that his father could not be removed from the party's top post and the ones trying to remove him were only doing so for publicity.
"People were called in Lahore's meeting and they were asked to sign on blank papers," Hussain said, hinting that the members did not willingly sign on the papers for Shujaat's dismissal.
Hussain added that PTI Chairman Khan must have told Elahi to ensure that he holds the reins of the party, but also mentioned that the move was against the law and Shujaat is still the president.