P.M. Imran Khan maintains he fully supports the Punjab chief minister and has no intent to replace him
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s dissident group, led by Jahangir Khan Tareen, on Tuesday announced that they are willing to hold talks with the party leadership—but only after Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has been removed from office.
“Our group is ready to hold talks with the government, but only under a minus-Buzdar formula,” Nauman Langrial, a member of the ‘JKT group,’ told journalists. “In fact, things have gone beyond minus-Buzdar,” he added.
Dismissing reports that Aleem Khan, a former Punjab minister who joined the group earlier this week, was being considered as a potential replacement for Buzdar, he said that this decision would be taken by the group’s leader. “Our leader is Mr. Tareen and he is mandated to take a decision about a name for the Punjab chief minister or negotiating with the opposition,” he said.
Langrial claimed that “other political parties”—a likely reference to the opposition—had contacted the group, adding that Tareen was being apprised of all such contacts.
Earlier, Defense Minister Pervaiz Khattak had reached out to the JKT group—which reportedly comprises over 24 MPAs and about 10 MNAs, mostly from south Punjab—and tried to resolve their differences with the PTI. According to sources, he informed them that if they were unhappy with Buzdar’s performance, they should propose an alternate name for the government to consider.
Khattak also met with the leadership of government ally Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid) and asked whether they would be amenable to businessman Aleem Khan being appointed the chief minister of Punjab. However, per a PMLQ spokesperson, the party had categorically refused to support this while noting it would be willing to consider other names.
Aleem on Wednesday reportedly left for London to have one-on-one meetings with Tareen, who is currently receiving medical treatment abroad.
Buzdar meets Khan
The pressure on the Punjab chief minister is mounting amidst the opposition submitting a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan in the National Assembly. In a meeting with Buzdar in Islamabad, the prime minister reportedly assured him that he would continue in office so long as the PTI was in power.
According to some segments of media, Buzdar offered his resignation to Khan, and suggested the name of Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi as his replacement. However, Punjab government spokesperson Hasaan Khawar rejected this, claiming the chief minister had not offered to resign.
While the government did not issue any formal statement on the meeting between the Punjab chief minister and the prime minister, Khan met several “sympathetic” YouTube analysts shortly after and assured them he did not fear the opposition’s move. He also told them that he fully supports Buzdar, adding that the Punjab leader was an “easy target” and was disliked by those seeking his position.