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All eyes on independent candidates in Punjab as PTI and PML-N lock horns


News Analysis |

Punjab’s fate is yet to be decided as PTI and PML-N are neck to neck in competition for the provincial legislature. After almost a decade, Independent candidates will play a significant role in forming upcoming Punjab government.

Now that the election 2018 results are drawing to a close and Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf is emerging as the leading party in Federal and KPK, all eyes rest on the independent candidates and smaller stakeholders. While Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), having held Punjab for the past ten years, has secured a strong position with 129 seats in the Punjab Assembly; it is only nine seats ahead of PTI.

According to media reports, Tehreek e Insaf has invited 14 independent candidates to join the party as of yet. Party leader Jahangir Tareen and Chaudhry Sarwar are in contact with others.   

Hence, in the face of a tough competition between Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to form the government in Punjab, independent candidates will be contacted and convinced to join either party, GVS has learned.

In the current landscape, out of the total 371 seats, a total of 149 seats are required to form the government in Punjab. With 66 seats reserved for women and eight for minorities, former ruling party PML-N requires 22 of the remaining 74 seats. Likewise, PTI will need 31 independent candidates or members of other parties to join it in order to form the government in the province, suggesting that there might be a possibility of a coalition.

Read more: PTI led coalition government or PML-N+PPP coalition government?

With 27 seats, including former PML-N veteran Chaudhry Nisar, independent candidates are the third largest group in the Punjab Assembly. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has bagged six seats and Pakistan Muslim League-Q has secured seven. With one seat each, Balochistan Awami Party, PML-Functional, and Pakistan Awami Raj will also represent their voters in the Punjab Assembly.

According to media reports, Tehreek e Insaf has invited 14 independent candidates to join the party as of yet. Party leader Jahangir Tareen and Chaudhry Sarwar are in contact with others.

On the other hand, the PML-N has announced to form the government in the most populous province of Punjab after the results released by the Election Commission of Pakistan show the party has the highest number of members.

Punjab’s fate is yet to be decided as PTI and PML-N are neck to neck in competition for the provincial legislature. After almost a decade, Independent candidates will play a significant role in forming upcoming Punjab government.  

The statement came from the senior PML-N leader Hamza Shahbaz during a press conference in Lahore Friday, the 27th of July. On Thursday, 26th July, the party had decided to sit on the opposition benches in the Centre, Punjab and other provincial assemblies.

Read more: How accountable would be PTI’s Government?

The decision to form the government was taken at a meeting of the PML-N central executive committee in Lahore on Thursday, headed by the PML-N Chief Shahbaz Sharif. The assemblage decided that the PML-N’s elected members will take an oath while wearing black armbands.

Speaking to the press, senior leader Hamza Shahbaz said that it is the first right of the PML-N to form the government in Punjab. He also commended Imran Khan’s balanced speech, saying that Imran needs to get to work.

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