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March 8, 2021

To turn tables on PTI in Punjab: PDM working on two-pronged strategy

National

March 8, 2021

LAHORE: Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) is working on a two-pronged strategy to turn the tables on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in Punjab that is either offering Chauhdry Pervaiz Elahi the slot of chief minister or capitalizing on the already managed around 18 members of the ruling party.

Party sources said PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari discussed both the options with PML-N Central Vice President and leader of the opposition in the Punjab Assembly in a one-on-one meeting held here on Sunday.

The first option of engaging the Chauhdrys in an understanding/agreement is a difficult task, as it depends on two conditions, sources said, adding, firstly this needs the nod of the Chauhdrys and secondly it should be clear by the top brass of PML-N especially Nawaz Sharif.

Party sources claimed that the PML-N had already closed a deal with 18 members from within the ruling party who had assured its top brass of their vote for the party candidate in case of a no-confidence motion. Maryam Nawaz was claiming to have hidden support of 25 PTI parliamentarians but as per party sources the number was not more than 18. As a result, PTI members who will vote PML-N candidate in the planned no-confidence move will cease to be the member of the parliament under the defection clause and then PML-N will accommodate them by giving party tickets to contest new election. Sources further said after materializing the arrangements of the second option, Hamza Shahbaz will be the PML-N’s candidate for chief minister. Sources said most of these 18 PTI revolting members were from the southern belt of the province and were already in touch with the PML-N leadership. On the other hand, there were around four or five members of PML (Jalil Sharaqpuri group) who revolted against the party but they may return after seeing the mood of the winds. Sources said in case these members didn’t return, the party leadership was working on other PTI members to complete their number game for a possible no-confidence move. As per the number game in the Punjab Assembly, the total number of seats is 371 out of which 370 members have taken oath. The only seat on which the elected candidate didn’t take oath was of Chauhdry Nisar. In the House of 371, PTI has 181 members, PML-N 165, PML-Q 10, PPP 7, while four members are independent and have not joined any party. One seat belongs to Moavia Azam of Rah-e-Haq party. He is the son of late Maulana Azam Tariq. Meanwhile, PML-N Punjab spokesperson Azma Bukhari, when contacted, said all options were on the table, including the ones under discussion. “The PML-N is in no hurry despite the fact that multiple options could be adopted. Our prime objective is fresh polls because we don’t want to shoulder the mess the PTI would leave if and when we decide to assume power in the Punjab,” she added. The final decisions, however, will be taken by the PDM in the upcoming meetings, she said.