Signalling a thaw in the strained ties between the ruling PTI and one of its key coalition partners, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday visited PML-Q leader Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain at his residence in Lahore to inquire after his health.
Former premier Shujaat was recently discharged from the Services Hospital after being treated for a chest infection.
PM Imran was accompanied by Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and Special Assistant Shahbaz Gill.
Other PML-Q leaders, including Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, his son MPA Moonis Elahi, Federal Housing Minister Tariq Bashir Cheema, and MNA Chaudhry Salik Hussain were also present on the occasion.
According to sources, the prime minister also spoke privately with Shujaat and Elahi and assured them that their party’s reservations would be addressed.
The relationship between the PTI and the PML-Q has soured in recent times over the ruling party’s inability to remove its ally’s grievances.
Earlier this month, the PML-Q not only skipped the luncheon hosted by the prime minister but also accused the ruling party of never trying to address the coalition partner’s grievances in the last two years.
Speaking about his party’s decision to not attend the luncheon, Federal Minister Cheema had said the PML-Q was there whenever the PTI needed its votes and assistance in the past two years but “unfortunately either the PTI doesn’t want to consult with anyone or it doesn’t consider us worthy of it”.
The minister also reminded the PTI that the PML-Q was its only coalition partner in Punjab but the ruling party had shown no interest in addressing its concerns.
The PML-Q had also skipped a dinner hosted by the prime minister for the allies in June this year.
The PTI-PML-Q ties were further complicated when the National Accountability Bureau, the country’s top anti-graft body, reopened 20-year-old inquires against Elahi and Shujaat, accusing them of involvement in money laundering and accumulating illegal assets.
Cheema had taken up the matter with the prime minister, informing him about his party’s concerns over reopening of the old cases by NAB.
Elahi and Shujaat, also known as the Chaudhry brothers of Gujrat, then moved the Lahore High Court challenging the NAB chairman’s authority to reopen the old case against them.
Earlier this month, the anti-graft body closed the investigation against the PML-Q leadership over “lack of evidence”.
Apparently another distressing development for the PTI was PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif’s telephonic conversation with Shujaat and Elahi on Tuesday.
The PML-Q leaders condoled with his Sharif, who is in London, over the demise of his mother Begum Shamim Akhtar.
Shujaat and Elahi prayed for the departed soul and remembered her as a loving and affectionate person. They inquired about Sharif’s health. The former premier expressed his gratitude to the Chaudhry brothers for expressing their condolences.