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Chaudhry Shujaat advises Imran Khan to return to parliament

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain said Tuesday that deposed prime minister Imran Khan should return to parliament — whose party quit the National Assembly in April. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Inaf’s (PTI) parliamentarians resigned en masse after Imran was voted out through a vote of no-confidence, and since then, have not returned to the lower house of parliament despite the Supreme Court asking it to do so. “The people, who elected and sent them to parliament, are observing their actions,” Shujaat said while talking to senior journalists at an event in the federal capital, saying that if the PTI lawmakers keep enjoying the perks despite not being in parliament, it will be in no one’s interest. Imran’s ouster has triggered persistent political turmoil in the country and most recently, a severe crisis hit Punjab after the governor, Baligh-ur-Rehman, removed the chief minister, Parvez Elahi, from the office, as the CM — a strong ally of Imran and Shujaat’s cousin — had said that he would dissolve the assembly in line with the PTI chief’s orders. But the situation has since then remained stable as the Lahore High Court (LHC) took an undertaking from Elahi that he would not dissolve the assembly, although, it did not stop him from taking a vote of confidence. To ensure that the assembly wasn’t dissolved, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari had also earlier visited Shujaat’s residence in Lahore. In today’s conversation, Shujaat said that political and economic stability are crucial for the country and the general elections should be held on time — an issue on which the government and the PTI have been at loggerheads. “If we all work together for Pakistan, only then can we save it. In case we cannot set aside our difference and a similar situation persists, then all will be lost,” he warned. Shujaat, who was also the former prime minister, said that if the political parties could understand the need to set aside their differences, only then could Pakistan convince the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to lend support. The IMF programme has hit a snag since September as the government has failed to meet requirements for the ninth review, while the forex reserves and rupee are at record lows, with inflation skyrocketing continuously. “If we don’t ensure political stability, no one will send a rupee our way. Will snap elections — a key demand of Imran — ensure an end to unemployment?” he wondered. Shujaat also called for a consensus among political parties as he stressed that it is the only way to ensure Pakistan’s survival. “If we cannot comprehend this, then neither can the country nor parties survive.” He went on to say that neither the armed forces nor anyone else would intervene and warned that stability is “key” for Pakistan at the moment as several regional forces, including India, wanted to destabilise the country.

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