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One meeting, four tales: IK met Chaudhrys but left without any assurance

Ansar Abbasi
Wednesday, Mar 02, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan met his key coalition partners --the Chaudhrys of Gujrat --on Tuesday evening for a little over half an hour but left without any solid assurance that their marriage of convenience will continue.

Three sources, who were part of the meeting from the PTI side, and one source from the PML-Q, had different stories to tell when approached and questioned by The News. The accounts of the meeting by the three government sources were different from each other while the PML-Q source insisted that the media had been fed the wrong information by a government minister about what was discussed in the meeting.

The PML-Q source said that for that reason, the party had issued a press statement about what was discussed in the meeting.

The Q-League source said that the issue of a no-trust move was not discussed as such and there was a general discussion that took place between the two sides. The source said that the PM talked about his visit to Russia.

The PML-Q leadership was asked about their recent interaction with Shehbaz Sharif. The source said that the premier was told that the younger Sharif had visited the Chaudhrys after 14 years. The Chaudhrys said that being a political family, it is not unusual for them to interact with politicians.

Meanwhile, one of the three government sources said that “politics” was not discussed as such in the meeting. There were so many people there that the issue of no-confidence was not discussed as such. The prime minister inquired about the health of Chaudhry Shujaat whereas the other side appreciated Imran Khan’s tour to Russia. The source said that it was a good meeting and he hoped that the PML-Q will remain with the government.

The second government source said that although there was no assurance sought by the PM or given by the Chaudhrys regarding the no-trust move, the body language of the top PML-Q leadership was good and encouraging for the government. This second government source said following an inquiry from the government side, the Chaudhrys also talked about Shehbaz Sharif’s visit. The Chaudhrys said that they asked Shehbaz about the opposition’s action plan, which was not found solid by the Q-leadership.

When asked, the source said that he hoped that the marriage of convenience between the two parties would continue.

The third PTI source, when approached, told this correspondent that Chaudhry Shujaat told Imran Khan to stand firm (dattay rahain). The source quoted the Chaudhrys as having told Shehbaz Sharif that in case of the failure of the no-trust move, Imran Khan would emerge far more powerful. This source claimed that the Chaudhrys had urged Shehbaz Sharif not to embark on such adventures. The third government source further said that the Chaudhrys also said that they were offered the chief ministership but only to announce the dissolution of the Punjab assembly. “What will we get out of it,” the government source quoted Chaudhry Pervez Elahi as saying.

The source said that the PM briefed the Chaudhrys about his recent visits to Russia and China. The premier said that he was advised by certain people not to go to Russia but he said he was of the view that Pakistan could not snub Moscow. The premier, the source said, also briefed the Chaudhrys about the relief package and the tax amnesty being offered.

The PML-Q source, however, insisted that what a particular government minister was telling the media about the meeting is not factual.