Elahi camp removes Shujaat as PML-Q president, move termed ‘unconstitutional’ – Pakistan

The differences between the Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) factions widened on Thursday as Tariq Bashir Cheema and Chaudhry Salik Hussain denounced the decision to remove Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain as the party president, terming to be “unconstitutional”.

Earlier today, it was reported that the party’s general council elected Chaudhry Wajahat Hussain and Kamil Ali Agha as the new PML-Q president and secretary general, respectively, during a meeting in Lahore while Chaudhry Parvez Elahi was retained as the PML-Q Punjab president.

The development also comes days after Shujaat sent a show-cause notice to Elahi and suspended his membership over his comments regarding the party’s possible merger with the PTI.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad today, Cheema — who was ‘replaced’ with Agha — said the move was “unconstitutional” as the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was currently hearing a case regarding intra-party polls.

“It is the first time in the country’s history that a political party’s decision is being made in such a botched manner by gathering the people of two to three districts of Lahore,” he said, reiterating that Shujaat was the party chief.

“We are the incumbent government’s allies.”

“We strongly condemn this move. At least, I personally was not expecting that he (Elahi) would do something like this”, Cheema said. He alleged that there was a “huge story” behind the move and all would be revealed at the right time.

He pointed out that Elahi’s faction within the party were “not daring to merge with the PTI”, saying that there were a “few things not allowing them to take this step”.

Meanwhile, Salik equated the move to be similar to the step taken by the former Punjab chief minister in July, wherein the PML-Q central working committee had unanimously decided to remove Shujaat and Cheema from their party positions.

“Elahi is only doing this to make it to the news,” he said, “In reality, they cannot do so.”

Salik highlighted that there was a procedure to call a general council session. “Elahi did not issue a notice to all the party members 10 days prior.”

Speaking to Dawn.com, Salik said the move made by the PML-Q’s general council did not have any legal standing. “The ECP could also hold them in contempt,” he said. “This is the second time they have tried to do this.”

He further claimed that Elahi was merely doing this to show the PTI that he could exercise control over the PML-Q and so that “talks regarding seat adjustment could bear results” before the provincial elections.

Asked if the PML-Q would approach the courts regarding the matter, Salik said that the court could not be moved if the matter was pending with the election commission.

Differences in the PML-Q ranks first appeared in March last year around the time of the no-confidence motion against former prime minister Imran Khan as Parvez and Moonis entered the PTI camp while Shujaat joined the then-opposition.

The same split was witnessed in last year’s Punjab chief minister election saga as Shujaat supported the candidature of PML-N’s Hamza Shehbaz instead of Parvez.

Amid a widening rift between the Chaudhrys of Gujrat, Shujaat had extended an olive branch in August to Parvez, asking him to put an end to differences.

The PML-Q leader had talked in detail about the reasons that led to discord between him and Parvez. He, however, had called for the reunion of the party that split into two camps following the rift over the election of the Punjab CM.

Additional input from Hasaan Ali Khan

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