LAHORE – The game never ends in political chess, as they say. Tuesday’s meeting between Punjab Assembly Speaker Ch Parvez Elahi and the PPP-P supremo Asif Ali Zardari is being seen as a major move on the political chess board.
Taking place between an important ally of the government and an Opposition leader, the meeting was watched with great interest in political circles. The PML-Q, being an ally of the PTI both in the Centre and in Punjab, holds the key to the political stability in the current political dispensation. It was a one-on-one meeting as Ch Parvez Elahi went alone to see the PPP leader.
The move is significant when seen in the context of an improved relationship between the Chaudhrys of Gujrat and the PML-N leadership. There was no media talk after the meeting as the PML-Q leader left Bilawal House without facing the media.
The government tried to downplay the development terming it a routine meeting between two politicians.
“It was just a chit-chat and laughter having no consequences for the Punjab government,” Punjab Chief Minister’s special aide Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan told the media even before the meeting.
Analysts, however, think that the moves are always there in politics and the games are real. Anything can happen any time in Pakistan given the volatile political situation which has been the hallmark of all elected governments.
There was no word from the PPP side though, but the PML-Q’s media office did come up with a brief explanation about the background of this meeting. Going through the party’s media release, it appears that it was a gesture of thanksgiving on the part of Ch Parvez Elahi for the cooperation Asif Zardari had extended during the last Senate elections in Punjab when all the Senate candidates were elected unopposed. The rest was just an exchange of pleasantries between the two sides and a light discussion on the political situation.
According to the press release, Ch Parvez Elahi inquired about the health of Asif Ali Zardari who in turn inquired after the health of the veteran PML-Q leader Ch Shujaat Hussain. “The current political situation in the country and other issues of mutual interest were discussed in detail during the meeting,” said the media release which also quoted Ch Parvez Elahi saying that he had come to thank Asif Ali Zardari for his support in the unopposed election of the Senate in Punjab. He also said he wanted to go to Karachi to meet Asif Zardari but the PPP leader said that they could meet in Lahore when he would come there.
Though the media was not formally briefed about the outcome of this meeting, sources in the Bilawal House deliberately leaked to the media some points of the discussion that took place between the two leaders.
According to the insiders, Zardari stated that Imran Khan had never been a politician and that his selectors were now regretting their choice. “PM and his ministers think they can bully the Sindh government, but it is their wishful thinking. We confronted the dictators and Khan is just a small fry”, Zardari reportedly told Parvez Elahi. “You worked with us as coalition partners, and you have also worked with PTI. Now you would know the difference”, he remarked. Zardari also said that PPP will give surprises in the next elections.
“We opposed the government policies despite being a coalition partner. If we are allied with the PTI now, we will not change this position in the next general elections,” Parvez Elahi was quoted as having told Asif Ali Zardari. Parvez also said that all assemblies witnessed hooliganism but it did not happen in the Punjab Assembly.