LAHORE -  Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf has a long way to go before going into the next elections.But strangely enough, it is demanding early elections, not later than April next year, though apparently it still needs to have more electables especially from Punjab which has traditionally been a stronghold of the PML-N since the last three decades.

PTI has already launched its election campaign across the country holding political rallies one after the other. In Punjab , it is focusing on the south and central Punjab at the moment.  

Khan’s party is aspiring to form the next government in the centre; and to achieve this end, it is facing the herculean task of getting at least 100 seats from Punjab , a province which has been deciding the fate of political parties since long.

In the present National Assembly, the PTI has only six members from Punjab elected on the general seats . The rest come from the KP (18 seats), Sindh (1) and the capital city of Islamabad.

PTI’s six MNAs from five Punjab districts include: Ghulam Sarwar Khan (Rawalpindi), Imran Khan (Rawalpindi), Amjad Ali Khan (Mianwali), Shafqat Mehmood (Lahore), Shah Mehmood Qureshi (Multan) and Jehangir Khan Tareen (Lodhran). It has no representation in the National Assembly from rest of the 31 districts. Asad Umer was elected from Islamabad in 2013. Recently, the PTI has held political rallies at Pakpattan, Khanewal, Mianwali, Rahimyar Khan, Kot Addu (Muzaffargarh) and Attock districts. It also plans to hold rallies in Bahawalnagar, Layya and Taunsa in the first week of December. These are the districts mainly held by the ruling PML-N, but of late, the PTI has also made inroads by winning over the loyalties of some electables.

In order to form the next government in the centre, the PTI has to get at least 100 seats from Punjab in the coming elections while also improving its existing tally especially in the KP where it is in the government since 2013. Interestingly, while the PPP is planning to restrict the ruling PML-N to 100 seats in Punjab which seems to be a realistic approach, the PTI , on the other hand, is eying over as much number of seats from this province.

PTI , which has been cobbled together taking politicians from different political parties, is mainly banking on the likely split in the PML-N in the wake of SC verdict on Panama leaks. It is in the hope of getting electables from the ruling party just before the polls are announced. Also, it thinks that the PPP and the PML-Q have become non-existent in Punjab due to their wrong stance they took at the time of 2014 sit-ins staged by the PTI in Islamabad.

In the last three years, the PTI has been able to win the support of over three dozen electables from Punjab who have been MNAs from various Punjab districts from 2002 to 2008. But still it lacks the required number to emerge as the majority party in the next elections.

To mention a few, the PTI has won ex-MNA Ghulam Murtaza Satti from Rawalpindi, Major Tahir Sadiq from Attock, Farrukh Altaf and Fawad Ch from Jhelum, Imtiaz Safdar Warriach and Mehdi Bhatti from Gujranwala and Hafizabad, Ch Ashfaq, Raja Riaz and Rana Tauseef from Faisalabad, Talib Naqai and Asif Nakai from Kasur, Nauraiz Shakoor from Sahiwal, Samsam Bokhari and Ashraf Sohna from Okara, Ahmad Yar Hiraj from Khanewal, Abdullah Wains from Bahawalnagar, Amir Dogar from Multan and Mustafa Khar from Muzaffargarh, Amir Warrien from R.Y Khan, Khawaja Sheraz from Taunsa and Bahadur Khan Seharr from Layya.

The PTI leadership is also eyeing some sitting MNAS from the PML-N who will be announcing their support for the party just before the elections.

PTI , spokesperson Fawad Ch told The Nation that his party will field 150 candidates on all the national seats from Punjab and the federal capital. He claimed that the PML-N will fall like a wall of sand by January next year and holding of fresh elections would become inevitable by April next. He claimed that PPP will also fell in line and dissolve the Sindh Assembly to make the early elections possible.

He was confident that his party will bag majority of seats from Punjab mainly relying on the popularity of its leader Imran Khan. “In 2013, it was a four way fight in Punjab among the PML-N, the PTI , the PPP and the PML-Q though traditionally it offers a two-way contest. The next election will be mainly contested between the PTI and the PML-N,” he believed.

PTI’s south Punjab President Ishaq Khaqwani told The Nation that he had found 50 per cent candidates so far to be fielded in the coming elections. He said the party was in the process of contacting more politicians from the region who would be joining the party in the near future.