Lahore - PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Husain says there may be a surge of voting towards Imran “but whether that can be converted into electoral strength remains to be seen”.

In a written interview to TheNation on Tuesday, the former prime minister said the PML-Q was expected to do well in the May 11, but did not say how many seats it was likely to win. “We expect to do well, Inshallah”, said the seasoned politician known for his witty, and at times humorous remarks. He came up with very brief answers to all questions, which was something quite unusual on his part.

He also did not like to give the number of candidates his party has put up for the national and provincial seats. “It shall be apparent on May 11.”

Q: The party (PML-Q) launched in 2001 appears to have evaporated at the time of 3rd elections due on May 11. Will it be right to conclude that not in a very distant future the party will become history?

A: When the top leadership fled Pakistan under a deal, we were left with the responsibility of rescue and rehabilitation. The party is very much functional and a (relevant) factor that is why it is courted by all factions.

Q: Why is there so much ‘opportunism’ seen in the PML people? They change loyalties quite conveniently – without remorse. Why so many people have left you?

A: It is the fault of the human condition. This is a long-standing issue of moral decline in our culture which needs to be attacked head on.

Q. How many candidates have you put up at national and provincial level?

A: It shall be apparent on May 11.

Q: How is your party expected to perform on May 11? What is your assessment about the PML-N, PPP and PTI?

A: We expect to do well, Inshallah. There may be a surge of voting towards (PTI Chairman) Imran (Khan) but whether that can be converted into electoral strength remains to be seen.

Q: The PML-Q was in parliament when the National Security Council was set up by Gen Pervez Musharraf, your party kept silent when prime minister Gilani disbanded it. And now once again the PML-Q has included the idea in its manifesto with only one change that it should be headed by the PM, not the president. Why are you not clear whether the country needs an NSC or not?

A: We have always been consistently firm about the need of a defence group which has to be competently and honestly staffed. We are pleased that PML-Q Secretary General Senator Mushahid Hussain has been elected and entrusted with the vital responsibility of being Chairman of the Senate Defence Committee.

Q: Your party had joined hands with the PPP government to improve economy, overcome energy crises, control price hike, and set right the law and order situation. But when the assemblies completed their term none of these problems could be addressed. If somebody alleges that you were more interested in becoming a coalition partner than solving these problems, how would you respond?

A: We entered into coalition to prevent the civilian structure from slipping and we have accomplished that. The operational responsibility of executive functions remained vested with the ruling PPP.

Q: You became prime minister and Chaudhry Parvez Elahi Punjab chief minister because of the support given by Gen Musharraf. But now that he is in trouble you, like everybody else, distanced yourself from him. Can you clarify your conduct?

A: We got the positions based on our own political strength. We did not agree with (Gen) Musharraf’s actions, which led to his exit and then re-entry. To set the record straight it was Musharraf who left us in favour of the PPP. The results of that action are now self-evident. Nonetheless, we regret what he is undergoing and don’t believe that he should be scapegoated.

Q: Do you think Gen Musharraf was responsible for the murder of Benazir Bhutto, Nawab Akbar Bugti and the Lal Masjid operation? How do you see the attitude of the various courts towards him? Do you think he would get justice?

A: The matter is subjudice. We expect and hope that he gets due process and a fair and impartial hearing.

Q: What situation do you visualise in case the PML-N or PTI comes to power? What’s the possibility of PPP, PML-Q, MQM and ANP forming a coalition government after the polls?

A: The question is hypothetical.

Q: How in your opinion can the killings in various parts of the country be brought to an end?

A: A govt with moral authority can muster the will to build a national consensus to quash murderous ideologies of hate which pose an existential threat to Pakistan.

Q: Can the elections be fair when party like PPP, ANP and MQM were targeted and not allowed to freely carry out their election campaign?

A: This is most unfortunate and it certainly does not make electioneering into a level-playing field.