Who will rule Punjab?

Who will rule Punjab?

LAHORE: Having emerged as the largest single party in July 25 elections, Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf is in position to form governments in the Centre and two provinces, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, while the last tussle between PML-N and PTI has narrowed down to Punjab.

Both PML-N and PTI are embroiled in a tussle to form government in Punjab, making efforts to woo independently elected candidates to obtain required numbers.

Though both parties appear confident to be at the helm in the province with PML-N previously obtaining 129 seats and PTI was on its heels with 123 seats. While 27 independent candidates, the third largest group in Punjab assembly, 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.

PTI on Sunday declared that it has successfully obtained 132 seats in Punjab after the inclusion of nine independent candidates, of whom four joined the PTI on Saturday and five on Sunday.

Those reportedly announced their support for the PTI include;  Tahir Randhawa (PP-280) and Rafaqat Ali Gilani (PP-284) from Layyah, Basit Sultan Bukhari (PP-272), Alamdar Abbas (PP-277) and Abdul Hayee (PP-270) from Muzaffargarh, Hussain Jahanian Gardezi (PP-204) and Khawar Ali Shah (PP-203) from Khanewal, and Hanif Pitafi (PP-289) from Dera Ghazi Khan and Muhammad Basharat Randhawa (PP 282), Muhammad Salman Naeem from Multan.

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.

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.

In his efforts to retain power in Punjab, former CM and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shehbaz Sharif called on PPP leader  Makhdoom Ahmad Mahmood and discussed matters of forming coalition government in the province.

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, adding that  their party would retain control over the Punjab Assembly instead of being relegated to the opposition benches.

On the other hand, PTI Spokesman Naeemul Haq claimed that the Punjab chief minister will belong to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. There should be no mistake about it, he told reporters.