PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain is said to be frantically lobbying to become the first chairman of the Parliamentary Judicial Committee which will scrutinise recommendations of the Judicial Commission headed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhary.
The first meeting of the eight-member parliamentary committee is to be held here on Monday (today) to select its new chairman.
Fresh secret contacts between the Presidency and the main PML-Q camp were said to have been established last week.
Insiders said the fresh initiative to secure crucial PPP votes was undertaken by Chaudhry Shujaat himself.
The PML-Q and the Pakistan Peoples Party are reported to have actively been cooperating with each other on several important issues since the general elections in 2008.
The sources said PML-N Senator Ishaq Dar and PPP MNA Aftab Shaban Mirani are the other two available options for this important post, but another resourceful personality says Chaudhry Shujaat may emerge as a “dark horse” because the PPP was favouring him for some obscure reason.
A government functionary said that keeping in view conflicting political interests on the issue of judiciary and the current level of hostility, PML-N’s Ishaq Dar’s chances of securing PPP’s four votes was out of question.
Ultimately, the source reasoned, if the PPP did not decide to appoint a soft-spoken Aftab Mirani, Chaudhry Shujaat was the most likely candidate to emerge as the head of the parliamentary committee.
An inside source claimed that the government was not interested in bringing its own man to head the powerful committee after being severely criticised even by its coalition partners, ANP and MQM, for nominating four of its parliamentarians as its members.
Law Minister Dr Babar Awan, considered to be the most powerful PPP minister, is already on the judicial commission.
Senators Nayyer Bokhari and Sabir Baloch and MNAs Aftab Shaban Mirani and Asma Alimgir have been nominated – all of them belong to the PPP. Senators Chaudhry Shujaat and Wasim Sajjad from PML-Q and Ishaq Dar and Ehsan Iqbal of the PML-N are its other members.
Giving background of these secret contacts between the top leaders of the PPP and PML-Q, sources said these exchanges spanned the past 30 months, starting with Chaudhry Shujaat and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi being guests at late night dinners hosted by President Asif Ali Zardari.
The relationship between leadership of the two parties was damaged when Zardari had termed the Q-League as “Qatil League” on the third day of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination in Naudero.
The freeze in relations was thawed during secret meetings held between the two party heads courtesy Dr Qayyum Soomro, a close aide of Mr Zardari. It is even said that Chaudhry Shujaat and Pervaiz Elahi even visited Dr Soomro’s residence in secret before the meetings with President Zardari at the Presidency.
But real “friendship” between leaders of the two parties developed when PML-Q voted in favour of electing Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in 2008. In return, the PPP government quietly helped Hamesh Khan, the former president of the Bank of Punjab, to fly out of Pakistan from Peshawar airport, despite his name being on the Exit Control List. Hamesh Khan’s departure helped the Chaudhrys to counter the onslaught of Shahbaz Sharif who was out to frame the two in the Bank of Punjab scam.
The cooperation between these two parties did not end there.
Better understanding appeared to have emerged after Governor’s rule was imposed in Punjab, which was later lifted after Salman Taseer and the Chaudhrys both failed to win the required numbers of MPs to their side to form a coalition government.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2010.