Mukhtar speaks out against PML-Q's Chaudhry cousins
Lahore: Pakistan's ruling PPP leader and Power Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar has vowed to oust PML-Q stalwarts Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi from his hometown of Gujrat, dealing a blow to the 15-month alliance between the two parties at the Centre.
This is the first time that a PPP leader of Mukhtar's stature has spoken against the PML-Q leadership since the party joined hands with the PPP at the Centre.
Mukhtar and several of his colleagues, including Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira and Nazar Gondal, have never gotten along with the Chaudhry cousins due to a long-running political rivalry.
"I will make the Chaudhrys run. I always do what I say," Mukhtar told journalists at a dinner here last night.
"Under an agreement, the Chaudhrys cannot contest election against me in Gujrat," he said.
Mukhtar was a strong contender for the slot of Prime Minister after the Supreme Court disqualified former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani in June for not reopening graft cases against the President.
However, his way was blocked, reportedly due to opposition from the PML-Q leaders.
Apart from this, Mukhtar's row with the Pakistan International Airlines CEO, former air force chief Rao Qamar Suleman, cost him the all-important Defence Ministry.
This has made him unhappy with the PPP's top leadership.
Insiders in PPP circles are of the view that Mukhtar's remarks against PML-Q leaders could create further problems for the party's leadership and it may "grill" him on the issue.
"At a recent meeting, the PML-Q leadership - Chaudhry Shujaat Husain and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi - had discussed a seat-adjustment formula for the next general election with the PPP but Mukhtar could turn out to be a big problem for the alliance between the two parties remaining intact," said a PPP leader who did not wish to be named.
PPP chief and President Asif Ali Zardari could not afford to annoy the PML-Q leaders at a time when the PPP is "fighting on other fronts," the leader said.
The PML-Q has taken strong exception to Mukhtar's remarks and suspects he might have an agenda to sabotage the alliance between the two parties.
"We will make sure that Mukhtar gives an explanation to his party leadership for speaking against the PML-Q leadership," a PML-Q spokesman said.
"Had the PML-Q not been part of the coalition, the PPP would not have been in power today. Mukhtar is a minister today because of the PML-Q," he said.
Mukhtar had contacts with opposition PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and it would not be surprising if he contested the next election on the PML-N platform, he added.