Will PML-N form the next government in Punjab?

Sources claim that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s success in the National Assembly--- vote of confidence--- has created serious political challenges for the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an alliance of 11 Opposition parties. To counter the government, argue analysts, the PDM leadership may target the Punjab government.

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Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz on Sunday claimed that her party will form the next government in Punjab. Addressing a press conference in Lahore, Maryam Nawaz lashed out at the government over the unpleasant incident that took place with the parliamentarians outside the parliament lodges. She threatened that the government will have to pay a heavy price for it.

Sources claim that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s success in the National Assembly— vote of confidence— has created serious political challenges for the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an alliance of 11 Opposition parties. To counter the government, argue analysts, the PDM leadership may target the Punjab government.

In a talk-show on Geo News, Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad also said that there is information about a move against Chief Minister Usman Buzdar in the backdrop of recent political developments. However, the minister was confident about the Buzdar-led government in Punjab.

There are 371 total seats in Punjab Assembly; however, only 368 are currently occupied. Of these, 181 are occupied by members of the PTI, 165 by PML-N members, 10 by PML-Q members, 7 by PPP members, 4 by independent lawmakers, and one by a member of the Pakistan Rah-e-Haq Party.

There has been political uncertainty right after the Senate Elections held on March 3. The PDM-backed candidate won the seat from Islamabad despite the PTI’s majority in the NA.  The government has announced not to accept the election results.

Senate Elections results were disturbing

The Senate Elections were quite disturbing for the PTI. According to the returning officer, who announced the results after counting ended in the National Assembly, six of the total 340 ballots cast in the National Assembly were rejected. Yousaf Raza Gillani obtained 169 votes, whereas Hafeez Shaikh got 164. One vote was not cast. The MPs were required to vote for 37 vacant seats of the Senate with 11 senators already elected unopposed from Punjab due to withdrawals from opposing candidates.

Polling was held for 12 seats each of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 11 of Sindh and two of the federal capital. MPAs from the three provincial assemblies cast their vote for the candidates fielded from Balochistan, KP and Sindh, while MNAs voted for the representatives from the federal capital.

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“PTI has unanimously decided that Prime Minister Imran Khan will take a vote of confidence from the National Assembly,” Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said while addressing a press conference along with Federal Ministers Shafqat Mehmood, Asad Umar, Shireen Mazari, Fawad Chaudhry, Syed Ali Haider Zaidi, Hammad Azhar and others.

Opposition’s relationship with government

The Opposition’s relationship with the government has been patchy since the time PM Khan assumed the office. However, the situation was flamed after corruption cases against the Sharif and Zardari families were filed in the courts. An All Parties Conference (APC) was called in Islamabad on September 20 where Nawaz Sharif, former prime minister, addressed the participants and slammed the country’s establishment for political engineering.

However, after holding some rallies and speaking against the armed forces of Pakistan, PML-N seems to be desperate to hold talks with the establishment.

On November 12, 2020 PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz said that her party is willing to hold talks with the military establishment, however, only under the condition that the PTI government is shown the door. Her remarks came during an interview with BBC Urdu.

After Maryam Nawaz’s demand to the establishment to step in for a “Charter of Democracy”, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, a senior leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), asked the judiciary to help politicians initiate a national dialogue to let democracy flourish in the country.

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Analysts believe that the establishment is unlikely to back any anti-government move in Punjab because of Nawaz Sharif’s sustained anti-army narrative across the country.

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