–Both PML-N and PTI are making efforts to woo independently elected candidates to obtain required numbers
–Hamza Shehbaz to be PML-N’s candidate for Punjab CM, Saad Rafique to be Opp leader in case party fails to muster enough numbers
–PTI’s Naeemul Haque says party in ‘comfortable’ position to secure Punjab
LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: As Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is all set to form governments in the Centre and two provinces—Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan— the last fight between the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Imran Khan-led PTI has narrowed down to Punjab.
Though both parties appear confident to be at the helm in Punjab, with PML-N obtaining 129 seats and PTI 122, 27 independent candidates will prove vital in tipping the scales. In order to form the government in the 297-strong house, an outright majority of 149 seats will be required to form the government.
The smaller players which could affect the outcome include Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) with seven seats; Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) with six; and PML-Functional, Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and Pakistan Awami Raj Party (PRAP) with one seat each.
As expected, the PML-Q has decided to support PTI in the Punjab Assembly, as well as National Assembly, which has increased PTI’s tally to 129—equal to PML-N’s.
Sources told Pakistan Today that a former Punjab minister who had secured a provincial assembly seat independently was actively engaged in efforts to form a group of independents to make the most out of the prevailing situation.
“We are also trying to woo some smaller parties, including Awami Raaj Party, Balochistan Awami Party and PML-F who have one member each. We will make a good strong front together,” the source said.
Furthermore, stalwarts from both sides have stepped up wheeling and dealings.
Jehangir Tareen, Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar are wooing independents from PTI’s side while Saad Rafique and Hamza Shehbaz are working to bring independents into PML-N’s fold.
‘PML-N WILL RETAIN PUNJAB’:
In a press conference in Lahore on Friday, Hamaz Shehbaz, son of former CM Shehbaz Sharif, said the PML-N is reaching out to independents who share the party’s ideology.
PTI’s Mehmoodur Rasheed, on the other hand, appeared confident of forming provincial government with the support of independents.
“The PML-N would retain control over the Punjab Assembly instead of being relegated to the opposition benches,” said Hamza, adding, “We will give good news to our supporters.”
He said the PML-N being the biggest party in Punjab will form government while alluding to last elections wherein “PML-N allowed PTI to form its government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa”.
“Nawaz Sharif made a big decision by allowing the PTI to form the government in KP. It hadn’t happened before in Pakistan’s history,” he added.
He also lauded the PTI chief’s “victory speech” and said that he liked the address, however it’s time Imran Khan walks the talk.
“Our polling agents in DG Khan were beaten up. Also, surveys conducted in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had showed that Punjab was ahead in health and education sectors. But we see today that polls results are different in Punjab,” he said while pointing out irregularities in elections’ conduct.
“But despite all our reservations, we will respect PTI’s mandate. We want democracy to flourish in Pakistan. Even if democracy is flawed, its solution is more democracy, and then more democracy,” he said.
Slamming the ECP for the delay in election results, he mocked its Results Transmission System (RTS) software which, according to the electoral body, faced a technical glitch during the vote count.
“The RTS [system] failed despite Rs21 billion invested in it,” he remarked, adding that it was the first time in the country’s history that election results had been delayed by more than a day.
‘PTI CONFIDENT TO RULE’:
After roping in electables to bag the Centre, PTI is hoping to win the support of independents to form the government in Punjab as well, with Naeemul Haque saying that the party has “required numbers” to form the government.
Though, the PTI will woo independents to take over Punjab, the party won’t make any deal with the PPP whatsoever as per Haque.
SHEHBAZ TO BE NA OPP LEADER:
What appears to be an end of provincial politics for ex-CM Shehbaz, the PML-N president will likely become the opposition leader in the newly-elected National Assembly, if his party doesn’t boycott parliament.
In case of Punjab, the party has named Hamza Shehbaz for the post of the chief minister. But being prepared for the unwanted scenario wherein PTI outmaneuvers PML-N, party stalwart Khawaja Saad Rafiq will be the opposition leader of the House.
PTI LEADS IN NATIONAL ASSEMBLY:
The ECP released provisional results of 260 out of 270 NA seats that were polled on July 25 across the country. The results of provincial assemblies are nearly completed.
According to results the PTI is leading on with 115 NA seats, PML-N lags behind with 62 seats and PPP is third largest party with 43 seats. There are a total of 12 independents in the NA so far while MMA also has the same number of seats. The MQM-P got six seats whereas PML-Q managed to secure five seats.
Sindh’s Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) got two seats, Awami Muslim League led by Sheikh Rasheed, Awami National Party (ANP), the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M), and BAP got one seat each.