Both parties to protest against alleged rigging in elections in their own way
Numbers game favours PTI in the Centre, close call in Punjab
PTI in lead to form Punjab govt as total nine independent MPAs-elect join hands
PML-Q assumes significant role in forming govt in Punjab, rejects PML-N’s coalition offer
Shujaat-led party demands top slots in return for support as PTI shows reluctance
LAHORE: As the numbers game becomes intense between Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to form governments at the centre and country’s largest province, Punjab, respectively, the PML-N on Sunday announced to take oath in the National and provincial assemblies despite having serious reservations over the results of the elections.
The decision was taken at party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting held in Lahore on Sunday. The meeting decided that the newly-elected Members of National Assembly (MNAs) will wear black ribbons at the time of oath-taking in the parliament as a sign of protest against the alleged rigging in July 25 elections, a statement said.
The party leadership said that every available forum would be used to register the protest against alleged rigging, adding that no forward blocks in the parliament would be formed. The CEC also decided to take the parties into confidence that took part in the All Parties Conference (APC), held on Friday.
PPP-PML-N MEETING DISCUSSES COURSE OF ACTION:
Earlier in the day, after a meeting with Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leadership, PML-N leader and National Assembly (NA) former speaker Ayaz Sadiq said, “It is clear that we have rejected the results of these polls but we cannot leave the platform of the parliament.”
The meeting was attended by Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Ayaz Sadiq and Muishahid Hussain Syed from PML-N and Khurshid Shah, Naveed Qamar, Yousaf Raza Gillani, Raja Pervez Ashraf, Sherry Rehman and Qamar Zaman Kaira from PPP.
PPP leader Farhatullah Babar, while talking to media, said, “Our parties have come to an agreement that the people’s mandate was stolen on election day.”
Babar added that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was helpless in reining in their election staff. “The ECP chief must step down after this quagmire of an election,” he added.
“We have also decided how to proceed in the future and we won’t let go of the platform of the parliament to engage in structured discourse,” he had said.
The PPP leader maintained that both parties would also take on board the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), Awami National Party (ANP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), Pakhtoon Milli Awami Party (PkMAP).
“We will have a final meeting where we will share with you [the media] our plan,” he said.
“Our party has nothing to do with forming a coalition government in Punjab, all we want to do is be a part of a robust opposition,” PPP leaders said.
A wide variety of options including forming the government, boycotting parliament, as well as, not taking the oath of office were all discussed in the meeting between the leaders of both the parties.
THE NUMBERS GAME:
For National Assembly, the PTI is in a relatively safe position with 116 seats as compared to 64 seats of PML-N and 43 seats of PPP. The tally for the independent MNAs stands at 13. With both PML-N and PPP announcing to sit on opposition benches, PTI has to get 137 seats. Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) with its four seats has already announced its support for the PTI at the centre and in Punjab. Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) with its four seats, Grand Democratic Alliance with its two seats and Awami Mulsim League with its one seat are also expected to support the Khan-led party. This will bring PTI’s total to 127, just 10 short of the magical number of 137.
But things are not that simple: PTI will also lose at least six seats in NA as Imran Khan and two others will have to vacate the extra seats that they have won. Without these six seats, the total seats in NA will be 264, out of a house of 272 (elections on two seats were postponed). According to the numbers game, 133 seats would make a simple majority which is required to form government. This means, PTI still needs at least six more seats to form its government. This also means independents have certainly gained a lot more importance.
In Punjab, even though PML-N has emerged as the largest party in Punjab with 129 seats and PTI stands at the second position with 123 members-elect, the Khan-led party is leading the battle to woo independent MPAs-elect in a bid to form the Punjab government and avoid the continuous tussle, as witnessed during the PPP-led federal government and PML-N’s tenure in Punjab.
PTI IN LEAD TO FORM PUNJAB GOVT:
PTI seems to have gained the upper ground over rival PML-N after a total of nine independents decided to join the former.
According to reports, with the joining of the independent MPAs-elect, the tally for PTI in the Punjab Assembly has reached 134, according to the party spokesperson. Earlier, PTI had refused to give the same independent MPAs-elect party tickets to contest the July 25 elections.
PTI Punjab President Abdul Aleem Khan and former secretary general Jahangir Tareen met the candidates and convinced them to join the party.
The candidates who joined the PTI include Muhammad Salman Naeem from PP-217, Tahir Randhawa (PP-280), Rafaqat Ali Gillani (PP-284), Basit Sultan Bukhari (PP-272), Almadar Abbas from PP-277 in Muzaffargarh and Abdul Hayi Dasti from PP-270.
PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry has also said that his party was in a strong position to establish its government in Punjab.
Talking to a private news channel, he said that the PTI would get the required numbers for forming its government in the province after including the elected members of its ally party Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) and independent candidates.
He said the PTI would improve governance and bring reforms in the institutions after forming the government.
PML-Q ASSUMES SIGNIFICANT ROLE IN FORMING PUNJAB GOVT:
With seven seats in hand, PML-Q has suddenly assumed a significant role for the formation of the Punjab government for both the mainstream parties.
On Sunday, PML-N leader Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, on party chief Shehbaz Sharif’s behalf, reached out to PML-Q leader and former Punjab chief minister Pervaiz Elahi seeking support in the provincial assembly in case his party managed to take on board a dozen or so independents and eventually supported either the PTI or PML-N.
However, the effort proved to be fruitless as the Chaudhry Shujaat-led party reportedly turned down the offer to form a coalition provincial government despite the offer of a “top slot” as PML-Q had demanded from PTI.
According to reports within the PML-Q, when Elahi was separately contacted by PML-N’s Mushahid Hussain for the purpose of forming a coalition government, Elahi said that since the PML-Q had fought the election alongside PTI, it would like to join them in forming the government.
“However, there is no such thing as a final verdict in politics, and we will not show rigidity at any point,” the PML-Q leader was quoted as saying.
The PML-Q is also reportedly in contact with seven independent candidates in Punjab and is ready to join hands with PTI.
SHUJAAT-LED PARTY TO SUPPORT PTI CM NOMINEE, DEMANDS TOP SLOT IN RETURN:
Meanwhile, PML-Q has sought the post of Punjab chief minister or deputy prime minister at the centre as a condition for forming a coalition provincial government with PTI. It was reported that the demands for supporting PTI in Punjab had been sent to the leadership for consideration as PTI is finding it difficult to field a suitable candidate for the top slot in the province.
PTI Spokesman Naeemul Haq, while addressing a press conference, dismissed speculations that a chief minister belonging to a political party other than the PTI would be appointed.
“The Punjab chief minister will belong to the PTI. There should be no mistake about it,” he told media representatives.
While it was reported that seven provincial members of PML-Q will be voting in favour of the PTI’s nominee for the Punjab chief minister, PTI chief Imran Khan has reportedly summoned a meeting of all MPAs-elect from Punjab in Islamabad today (Monday).
It is worth mentioning here that at least 149 directly elected MPAs are required to sit on the treasury benches of the Punjab Assembly. With the addition of 66 women on reserved seats and eight minorities, at least 187 (total 371) members are required to form a government while PML-Q has won seven, PPP (6) and independents have achieved 28 seats in the directly elected house of 297.