By Tariq Butt
ISLAMABAD: Top PML-Q leaders have warned former president Pervez Musharraf not to push them to a point where they have to join those demanding his open trial for abrogating the Constitution.
“Some key political forces, particularly the PML-N, are repeatedly stressing that you should be tried for high treason; conspiracies against us should not go to an extent where we too join them,” the Chaudhrys of Gujrat and some other PML-Q leaders, who recently met Musharraf, told him in plain words.
“It is better for you to keep mum and live a peaceful life, otherwise, you will face problems that will find too hot to handle,” they said in an ominous manner, according to one of them.
The senior PML-Q leader said Musharraf told them that he was not interested in politics, but political stalwarts kept urging him that he should not sit at home idle and take part in politics in a big way. “Masses want you to play your due role,” is what these people said to him.
They told him that since the PPP-led ruling coalition failed miserably to deliver and would not last long as people were already fed up with them, it was the proper time to join politics and take reins of the PML-Q.
These people have explained to Musharraf that as the PML-Q under the Chaudhrys of Gujrat was unable to become a popular party and would be decimated in the next elections, he should not take too long to make up his mind to formally become its head.
The PML-Q leader said that Musharraf told the Chaudhrys and other party stalwarts that he was not interested in politics, but was being advised by several PML-Q heavyweights that he should take a plunge and make their party a political entity worth the name.
Hamid Nasir Chattha, Humayun Akhtar, Muhammad Ali Durrani, Sumera Malik, Kashmala Tariq and some others are spearheading a campaign in the PML-Q to dislodge the Chaudhrys. Their efforts are actually directed to block Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi from becoming the next president of the PML-Q in 2009, when the party elections are due. However, the Chaudhrys have refused to budge and are determined to fight for the top slots again.
This has virtually divided the PML-Q into two factions, which has been an unbreakable tradition with all the Muslim Leagues. Vain efforts have been made for a patch-up.
A major charge of the dissidents against the Chaudhrys is that the PML-Q has not been an effective political force under the present leadership, which needs to be replaced. But, interestingly, none of the “rebels” has ever been known to be a leading campaigner of the PML-Q while it was in the government or has been out of power except for the present interlude. However, Durrani is still working in the background that it chose to adopt after the PML-Q lost the February elections.
The Chaudhrys have no doubt that these dissidents have been launched by Musharraf, but suspect that the government is also winking at them. According to them, the former president keeps calling these dissidents for instructions to proceed further. They allege that the “rebels” also have sufficient funds to run their campaign against them. They refer to the purchase of new palatial houses by some of the dissidents in posh sectors of the federal capital. One of the premises is famous for serving Thai food to guests.
However, a dissident said his group was genuinely concerned about the constant downslide of the PML-Q and it wanted to check it, which was possible only if the present party leadership was replaced. He said that they would not allow the PML-Q to be made a personal property or hereditary party of one family. Chattha has openly declared that they would oppose Pervaiz Elahi’s bid to become the next PML-Q president.