LAHORE   -   Three members of the ‘breakaway faction’ of the PML-Q Monday called on Punjab CM Hamza Shehbaz and discussed with him current political situation and matters of mutual interest.

Federal Minister Ch Salik Hussain and his brother Shafay Hussain, the two scions of Ch Shujat Hussain had a meeting with the chief minister at his office together while another member of the PML-Q. Tariq Bashir Cheema separately met him along with Opposition leader in the National Assembly Raja Riaz Ahmad. The PMLQ leaders reportedly reiterated their full support to the incumbent government and also expressed the desire to continue with the political alliance in future as well. Hamza Shehbaz inquired about the health of senior politician Ch. Shujaat Hussain and expressed good wishes for him. Seemingly, this meeting only highlighted the widening gulf between the families of Ch Shujat Hussain and Ch Parvez Elahi whose political differences are no more a secret now.

Ch Shujaat Hussain’s son Ch Salik Hussain and a senior party member Tariq Bashir Cheema are part of Shehbaz Sharif’s federal cabinet and openly supporting the ruling alliance. In their meeting with Hamza Shehbaz, they also pledged to remain part of their new political alliance and talked of building a long-term relationship.   On the other hand, Ch Parvez Elahi and his son Ch Moonis Elahi are siding with the PTI, a party recently thrown out of power from the Centre and Punjab by the coalition forces. Ch Parvez Elahi has been much vocal against the present regime since the removal of the PTI chairman Imran Khan through a no-confidence motion in April this year.

The strong resistance he put up against the PML-N and the PPP in the Punjab Assembly in the last two months has further soured his relationship with the coalition government. However, following this meeting, rumours were making rounds in the social media on Monday about a possible patch up between Ch Parvez Elahi and Hamza Shehbaz through the good offices of Ch Shujaat Hussain who, according to sources, wanted the two sides to come to terms with each other. “Ch Parvez Elahi should not destabilise the Punjab government and in return for this favour, he should remain Assembly speaker for rest of the tenure” said the reports attributing this suggestion to Ch Shujaat Hussain.

Ch Moonis Elahi, however, rejected this rumour terming it a ‘fake new’ in his tweet. He also asked those propagating this news to check the sources and stop spreading the fake news. Analysts believe that this might be the desire of Ch Shujaat Hussain to secure the political future of his cousin Ch Parvez Elahi, but the suggestion doesn’t seem to be mutually benefitting.  The PML-N does not need any such arrangement given the current number’s game in Punjab Assembly and the emerging political scenario after the by-polls on 20 Punjab Assembly seats.

To them, Ch Parvez Elahi does not seem to be a threat to the Punjab government as he doesn’t have the required number to move a no-trust motion against Hamza Shehbaz.

Also, after winning back two of its disgruntled MPAs, Maulana Ghiyasuddin and Ashraf Ansari along with two independents, the PML-N has improved its tally in the Punjab Assembly. Moreover, the majority of the PML-N-backed candidates are most likely to return to the Punjab Assembly after the July 17 polls, a likely situation where the PML-N will be in a comfortable majority in the Assembly.

The PTI will also lose most of its reserved seats after the by-elections.

Meanwhile, an official release regarding the meeting between PML-Q leaders and Hamza Shehbaz said that they condemned the blasphemous remarks against Holy Prophet (PBUH) in India as CM Hamza Shehbaz categorically stated that the protection of reverence of Khatam-un-Nabiyyin Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) is an integral part of the faith of every Muslim.

It was unanimously agreed upon that Islamophobia was giving way to hate speech and this required the formulation of a comprehensive strategy at the global level.