Away from the noise over the no-confidence motion in Islamabad, a similar aligning is taking place in Lahore, the capital of Punjab, where rival political camps were engaged in hectic efforts to meet the magic number to elect a new chief minister of their choice.
The opposition had filed a no-confidence motion against Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, while Prime Minister Imran Khan had decided to remove Buzdar and offered the chief ministership to his key ally at the Centre, Punjab Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q).
Senior Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader in Punjab and the provincial Law Minister, Raja Basharat, had been tasked by the prime minister to meet the provincial assembly members and ensure majority in the house for the election of Elahi as the chief minister, according to Express News.
The ruling party has claimed that the MPAs are in touch with Elahi, including those PTI members who are angry at the party policies. According to reports, 14 members of the Chhina group met with Elahi and assured him of its support on Thursday.
Those who met Elahi, included Amir Shahani, Ali Raza Khakwani, Ejaz Sultan, Ahsan Jahangir, Gulraiz Gondal, Khawaja Daud, Sardar Mohiuddin Khosa, Ghazzanfar Abbas, Taimur Lali, Sardar Shahabuddin, Faisal Farooq Cheema, Ejaz Khan and Ghulam Ali Asghar.
National Assembly member Tariq Bashir Cheema, Raja Basharat, Hafiz Ammar Yasir and Chaudhry Zaheer were also present in the meeting, which took place at the residence of MPA Ghazanfar Abbas, the sources said.
Speaking on the occasion, Basharat said that the number required for Elahi’s victory had been achieved. “The angry members are also in touch with Pervez Elahi and will support him. The remaining few members will be with him soon,” he added in response to a question.
He said that they were also in touch with the Jahangir Tareen group. “There will be positive developments soon,” he said. Responding to another question, Basharat said: “Most of the PML-N members are also with Chaudhry Pervez Elahi.”
Similar claims are also made by the joint opposition. The opposition expressed the confidence that they would be able to elect their own candidate as the new chief minister after the removal of Buzdar, either through the no-confidence vote or his resignation, to pave the way for the election of Elahi.
In this regard, the PML-N was expected to convene a parliamentary party session in the next day or two to discuss the candidate for the chief ministership. Party sources said that all the PML-N MPAs had been directed by the party high command to reach Lahore by Thursday.
The meeting would be chaired by PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif and Opposition Leader in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz. PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif was also expected to address the meeting from London via a video link, the source added.
Meanwhile, PTI’s Aleem Khan group had refused to vote for Elahi as chief minister, group’s spokesperson Mian Khalid Mahmood said. He questioned why none of the party’s 184 MPAs was picked to become chief minister instead of the one, who came from outside the party.
“Prime Minister Imran imposed a ‘dishonest and useless coward’ on Punjab for the past four years and has now nominated Pervaiz Elahi,” the spokesperson said. Every sincere PTI worker has objection to the nomination of Pervez Elahi.”
Referring to PTI’s popular slogan of Naya Pakistan, Mahmood expressed his surprise how Pervaiz Elahi will make the Naya Pakistan. “If Pervaiz Elahi would make a new Pakistan, then what was the need for forming the PTI?”