ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid’s (PML-Q) Hamid Nasir Chattha and the Chaudhrys of Gujrat decided in a meeting on Thursday that they would make a collective decision if the need arose to support the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). The Chaudhrys expressed confidence in Chattha over his possible role in negotiating reconciliation between the PPP and the PML-Q, party sources told. The decision follows separate meeting of the Chaudhry cousins and Chattha with President Pervez Musharraf.
The sources said Chattha had been holding consultations with PML-Q parliamentarians to muster support – reportedly at the president’s behest – for a possible move to join the PPP-led ruling coalition, but had little success. “The leaders decided to stay together,” said a source. “We (the PML-Q) will not let democracy be derailed if the PPP and the PML-N coalition break up,” he said.
Political observers are also counting as significant a meeting between PML-Q leaders and United States diplomats ahead of their meeting with the president. Three US diplomats – Deputy Chief of Mission Peter Bodde, Political Counselor Candace Putnam and Head of Defense Representatives Office at the US Embassy Major General Helmly – met Shujaat, Pervaiz Elahi and Mushahid Hussain at the Foreign Affairs Committee office.
In their meeting late on Wednesday, “the president told the Chaudhry cousins that he did not initiate a move to remove them from the party leadership”, a source said. The president said however that some party members had suggested the same to him during meetings following the February 18 elections. It was decided that the voices within the PML-Q favouring an alliance with the PML-N instead should be discouraged.
Shujaat’s leadership: Talking to reporters, Shujaat termed his meeting with the president as “a routine matter” and said rumors about a change in the PML-Q leadership should be stopped. Hamid Nasir Chattha said the PML-Q stood united under Shujaat’s leadership. He denied reports that he had been assigned “a task” in Punjab.-SANA