Born in 1945 in Gujrat, Pakistan Muslim League – Quaid (PML-Q) Punjab President and former deputy prime minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi hails from a powerful political family. His cousin, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, and his son, Moonis Elahi are part of a family trio which leads PML-Q.
Elahi, a graduate of Lahore’s Forman Christian College, joined politics in 1985. During the non-party based election held that year, he was elected as an MPA to the Punjab Assembly.
Since then, Elahi has gained considerable experience in provincial governance – he has served as chairman of Gujrat’s district council, minister for local government, opposition leader in Punjab Assembly and speaker in Punjab Assembly. While known, like his cousin, for his strength in political wheeling and dealing, Elahi is a man of few words otherwise.
In 2002, he was appointed the chief minister of Punjab. Elahi and cousin Shujaat had been part of Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) until the 1999 coup, after which they, along with other dissidents, formed their own party, PML-Q. Although he had been close to the Sharif family, Elahi and his kin had often had tensions with them, going back all the way to 1985 when he had formed his own group to counter Nawaz Sharif, who was chief minister at the time.
The decisive rift between Elahi and the Sharifs came in 1997, after Nawaz achieved a thumping victory that year in the election. Elahi had been promised the post of Punjab chief minister in return for contributing significantly to the election campaign. However, the powerful industrialist was instead made speaker while Nawaz’s brother, Shahbaz, took over the reins as Punjab chief minister.
According to a WikiLeaks cable, Elahi was a close confidante of Pervez Musharraf while the latter was in power and the former president often consulted him on a number of matters.
Elahi’s name has also been associated with a fraud scandal, involving his approval of an illegal merger between a private housing scheme and Bahria Town.
In 2008, the PML-Q leader was made the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly – but he suddenly and unexpectedly quit this post later that year in September, allegedly over a possible power sharing deal with Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in Punjab as well as at the centre.
In 2011, meanwhile, when PML-Q entered into an alliance with a needy PPP, a longstanding demand of the party was fulfilled and Elahi was awarded the post of deputy prime minister. This, however, was a ceremonial position with no extra powers.
Before being made deputy prime minister, Elahi had served as a federal minister for industries and production in ex-premier Yousuf Raza Gilani’s cabinet. Preceding this formal alliance, the Chaudhrys of PML-Q and the Bhuttos of PPP have had a history of bitter political enmity.
Even after the alliance, relations between the two parties remained rocky, and as a result Elahi stayed cautious in his dealings with PPP. In January 2013, Elahi announced that he would run from the NA-105 constituency in Gujrat, where traditionally the seat has been fought between Shujaat and PPP’s Ahmed Mukhtar. This is significant, considering that PPP and PML-Q have formally agreed to a seat adjustment plan.
— Research and text by Heba Islam