ISLAMABAD: Who will wear the crown in the Punjab? As the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has shown a little interest in forming the government in Punjab, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has many contenders running for the prized posts including party’s Lahore President Aleem Khan and PTI’s face on media, Fawad Chaudhry.
It is not yet clear that lady luck will smile on which candidate but as of Monday, Fawad Chaudhry and Aleem Khan are the front runners for Punjab CM slot however, the final decision will be of PTI chief Imran Khan.
PTI sources say that names of Dr Yasmeen Rashid and Hamid Yar Hiraj are also under consideration. “It is also being discussed that a makeshift CM may be brought and later Shah Mehmood Qureshi, PTI Vice Chairman will be elected from a provincial assembly seat to ultimately make him Punjab CM,” a senior leader of PTI disclosed to The News adding, “Shah Mehmood Qureshi also wants famous Gynaecologist from Lahore or Hiraj from Khanewal to be CM till he gets elected from a provincial assembly seat but given the situation, once a CM may remain CM for the entire tenure.”
Though Aleem Khan is considered very close to Imran Khan but he is facing multiple cases in the National Accountability Bureau and was summoned just fifteen days ago by Lahore NAB in a case of offshore companies. He is also facing a probe regarding his own housing scheme namely Park View Housing Society in Lahore. NAB had asked Lahore Development Authority to issue notices to five officers employed on different posts to provide reports on Aleem’s alleged illegal properties including Park View Villas and River Edge Housing Scheme.
Earlier, LDA had asked Lahore Electric Supply Company, Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited and Water and Sanitation Agency, Lahore not to provide services to Park View Villas and River Edge Housing Scheme as the two were illegal for not being permitted by the authority. NAB is also probing Aleem’s housing project in Islamabad.
In such a situation, it might be embarrassing for the PTI to nominate him for the Punjab CM post as PTI has been very vocal against corruption and has been supportive of NAB’s initiatives against PML-N leaders. It would be awkward for PTI that its CM would be appearing before NAB in corruption cases while holding an important office.
Fawad Chaudhry of Jhelum belongs to a famous political family as his uncle Chaudhry Altaf Hussain had remained a strong Governor of Punjab during the 90s and the Ludhar House of Deena, Jhelum remained a power hub during his times. It is yet to be seen that Ludhar House will once again recapture its past glory or not. Fawad is very close to Imran Khan and perhaps is the only contender who has not only delivered being spokesman for PTI but has also won an NA seat and a PA seat from Jhelum. Fawad bagged 67003 votes from PP-27 Jhelum. Fawad has also shown his performance as his cousin Ch Farrukh Altaf has won from his neighboring constituency in Jhelum on PTI ticket.
On the other hand, Dr Yasmeen Rashid has also been tipped as Punjab CM as she has been very active in the party and enjoys good repute being a top doctor of the country. PTI will again be in an awkward situation as she has secured a Punjab Assembly reserved seat on which, the people are rather selected instead of elected therefore she would have weak moral grounds. Moreover, Ms Rashid has no experience of holding a public office, let alone running the biggest province of the country. Her selection as Punjab CM might be a disaster for PTI.
However, she is also being considered as makeshift CM till Shah Mehmood Qureshi gets in the provincial assembly. Another contender Hamid Yar Hiraj is backed by Shah Mehmood Qureshi for a stop-gap arrangement till PTI’s vice chairman gets elected on a PA seat which he has lost.