The woes of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) are far from over. After a shocking defeat on the national level, the party is finding it hard to make government in its stronghold, Punjab. The throne of Lahore is going to fall in the lap of Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (PTI) after Pakistan people’s Party Pakistan (PPP) has chosen to play the role of opposition in Punjab Assembly. Despite Shahbaz Sharif’s efforts to convince PPP to join PML-N in Punjab, the latter is determined not to sit in a coalition setup. A partial explanation for PPP’s refusal rests in their past experiment of a coalition government in 2008 and the usage of foul language and hostility that PML-N leadership had shown towards PPP in the past.

Furthermore, Shahbaz Sharif, the party president, has failed to convince the independent winners to join PML-N in government making so far. Shahbaz’s failure to lure independent candidates shows that a good administrator is not necessarily a great leader. Given the fact that not a single independent candidate is showing any haste in joining PML-N cadre is a premonition of tough times ahead for PML-N.

Comparing the performance of PML-N in 2013 elections, when it formed the provincial government with a landslide haul of 313 seats, and its below-par performance in 2018 elections, where it has succeeded on 129 seats only, means that PML-N failed to deliver on its promises in the past five years.

The assertion that PML-N failed in delivering on its promises is correct because at a very crucial stage just before the 2018 elections members of the party from South Punjab left the file and rank of the party. Out of 29 successful independent MPAs-elect in the province of Punjab, 16 belong to South Punjab. And none of these 16 candidates has given any signal to Shahbaz about a possible coalition.

PML-N leadership need to take some time out for introspection and retrospection. It is about time for PML-N to stop complaining about rigging in elections. PML-N lost a golden opportunity of Punjab’s bifurcation when it was in power. People of the Southern districts feel marginalised. They have already given their verdict against PML-N’s performance. Casting a vote in favour of PTI, evident from the fact that PTI has grabbed more than forty seats from the region, South Punjab has already rejected the PML-N model of development. It is highly likely that the independent candidates too will join PTI. Nonetheless, failing in the challenging and an uphill task to convince PPP and woo some of the independent MPAs-elect will have severe negative impacts on the party in the future.