LAHORE - At a time when the government and the Opposition are locked in a conflict and neither side is ready to budge an inch from its position, the Chaudhrys of Gujrat have stepped in to save the situation using their personal influence and goodwill with the Maulana who has now come to a position to dictate terms to the rulers.

Holding reins of a mammoth crowd in the federal capital and having support of the mainstream opposition parties, Maulana Fazlur Rehman has thrown a challenge on the government. He is there to seek resignation from a sitting prime minister, hurling threats of marching towards the Prime Minister House in case his demand is not met. He also intends to hold a prolonged sit-in till acceptance of his demands.

On the other hand, the government has also declared in unequivocal terms that it will not succumb to the pressure, though it has engaged its team to negotiate with the Opposition parties to settle the issues.

In the high-stakes political battle, it is time of acute stress. Nobody knows for certain who would eventually emerge victorious in this battle of nerves which may prolong over several days.

In a bid to defuse the current political tension between the warring sides, PML-Q chief Ch Shujaat Hussain and Speaker Punjab Assembly Ch Parvez Elahi Sunday telephoned Maulana Fazlur Rehman to convince the JUI-F chief to come to an amicable settlement with the government. They also advised him to dispel the impression [created by Maulana’s last speech] that he was against the state institutions.

PML-Q’s Secretary General Kamil Ali Agha told The Nation that Maulana responded positively to the call from the PML-Q leaders and invited them to meet him at his Islamabad residence on Monday (today).

It is significant to note that following the telephonic contact with the Chaudhrys, Maulana Fazl told marchers on Sunday night that he wanted Azadi March protesters to stay at H-9 venue for the time being.

It has the implied meaning that the JUI-F chief has extended the deadline given to the government for PM’s resignation.

In such a volatile political situation, today’s (Monday) meeting between the Chaudhry cousins and Maulana Fazlur Rehman is of utmost importance. Chaudhrys are known for their cordial terms with the JUI-F chief who also holds them in high esteem.

It is noteworthy that both Ch Shujaat and the Maulana have been strong proponents of conciliation in politics avoiding use of force and violence to settle political issues. Both have been part of different governments in the past because of their conciliatory nature. It is hoped they would find a middle way to end the current imbroglio. But being allies of the present government, the PML-Q leaders have a limited mandate to negotiate terms with the JUI-F chief. A breakthrough can only be achieved if the two sides show flexibility and accept the suggestions coming from the Chaudhrys to resolve the matter.  

Ch Parvez Elahi is also part of the government’s team currently engaged in negotiations with the opposition parties. Several round of talks held so far between the two sides have not yielded any results. There is little likely-hood of any positive outcome at this level given the extreme positions taken by the government and the Opposition.

Also, talking to a news channel yesterday, Ch Shujaat congratulated Fazlur Rehman for what he called stealing the show of Azadi March. “The two main opposition parties - the PPP and the PML-N - have accepted Maulana as their leader by riding on his bandwagon,” he said. The PML-Q leader said that Maulana had the capacity to resolve the complex political issues through conciliation and hoped the country would come out of the current political mess soon. Shujaat believed that Maulana had emerged as the undisputed leader of the opposition in the present situation. Lauding the Maulana as the astute politician, the PML-Q leader said that he was not a naive to be used by anybody to fulfill their agenda.

Shujaat also took jibes at Mian Shehbaz Sharif saying he accidently became the Opposition Leader [in the National Assembly] only by the turn of events. He also did not see any role of Shehbaz in the sit-in staged by followers of the JUI-F chief. Shujaat also went to the extent of saying that Shehbaz was not sincere even with his elder brother Mian Nawaz Sharif. He averred that it was mainly due to incompetence of Shehbaz that PML-N had now come to number-two position among the opposition parties.