ISLAMABAD: As efforts to form a coalition government in Punjab gained momentum, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) announced that Imran Khan would be sworn in as the prime minister before August 14.
On Saturday, the party inched a little closer to its target after it managed to bring four of 28 of independent MPAs into its fold.
These MPAs are all from southern Punjab: Syed Rafaqat Hussain Shah, Basharat Randhawa, Hussain Jahanian Gardaizi, and Hameed Patafi.
“PTI is in touch with other independently elected MNAs and MPAs. Soon, most of them will join PTI,” Naeemul Haque, the spokesperson for the PTI chief, said.
He said the nation would hear ‘good news’ by Sunday (today) about the formation of government in Punjab.
According to preliminary results of the July 25 election released by the Election Commission of Pakistan, the former ruling party PML-N emerged as the frontrunner in Punjab by winning 129 of 295 Punjab assembly seats. However, it is closely followed by PTI that won 123 seats. After the four independent MPAs joined, the PTI’s total seats rose to 127.
PTI is in a better position to form a government in the largest province of the country because one of its allies Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) also won as many as seven seats.
An independent MPA from Mandi Bahauddin Sajid Ahmad Khan Bhatti opted to join PML-Q on Thursday increasing its total strength to eight.
Similarly, other ‘like-minded’ parties, including Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and Jamshed Dasti’s Pakistan Awami Raj Party also won two seats.
However, the independent lawmakers would play a crucial role in the formation of the next Punjab government.
“Jahangir Khan Tareen is visiting all independent candidates (elected) from Punjab … Most of them will soon join PTI,” Haque said.
Chief ministership of KP and Punjab
The Express Tribune discussed with a number of PTI leaders to glean information about back-to-back meetings being held at Bani Gala to discuss the party’s choices for the top executive posts in the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
An overview of these deliberations suggested that Dr Yasmin Rashid and former education minister Muhammad Atif Khan topped among other strong contenders for the post of the chief minister of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, respectively.
Party loyalist Dr Rashid lost the election on a seat from Lahore on July 25, but he is highly likely to be elected to the Punjab Assembly being on top of the priority list of the PTI for women’s reserved seats for the Punjab Assembly.
On Saturday, she also held a meeting with Khan at Bani Gala.
According to one source, Khan congratulated Rashid for waging a determined struggle for the party.
Khan was quoted as having told her to get ready for an ‘important task’ in the province.
A senior leader, privy to these developments, said that Aleem Khan, Fawad Chaudhry and Pervaiz Khattak were nowhere in the priority list of the party chief for top posts in KP and Punjab.
Former education minister Muhammad Atif Khan also appeared as a possible choice for the post of the chief minister of KP.
Another party leader confided that selection of the chief minister of K-P would be quite difficult for Imran Khan.
“Khan does not want Pervaiz Khattak to continue as the CM. But Khattak has a strong support base among newly-elected MPAs from the province,” he said.
Another source said that former minister Ali Amin Gandapur along with more than a dozen MPAs from the province Friday met with Imran Khan in the presence of Pervaiz Khattak and expressed their desire that Khattak should be given another term in office. Imran Khan is said to have expressed his uneasiness over this demand and reportedly told Gandapur that a decision would be made after consultation.
“Atif Khan’s chances are bright,” he commented.
Naeemul Haque said, “After the consultation process is finalised, announcements will be made about the nominees for the top posts.”