LAHORE - Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan is likely to be confirmed as Punjab governor, the office he is holding on temporary basis following resignation of Ch Muhammad Sarwar on January 28.

Reliable PML-N sources confide that decision has been taken at the highest party level to continue Rana Iqbal as governor and the appointment would soon be announced formally.

They say after the election for Senate and its top slots, deliberations at the top party echelons were held to decide name for the governor. They said before Senate polls Saud Majeed from Bahawalpur and a few others were hot contenders for Punjab governorship but the situation changed after ruling party failed to command majority in the Upper House of Parliament.

Saud, on the other hand, did not contest the Senate elections being almost sure he would get the slot of governor. But the party leadership subsequently showed tilt towards making acting governor permanent on this seat.

Sources say a case is pending before the Lahore High Court which has questioned appointment of Iqbal Khan as acting governor. The petitioner has claimed that speaker can act for the governor only if there is a permanent governor and he is temporarily dysfunctional due to foreign visits, health issues or any other such reason. But this is not the case in the present elevation of speaker to the governor office since no regular governor was there whom he needed to act for.

Also, a notification to appoint the acting governor was issued by the President in line with the call of the 18th amendment of the constitution, but in the instant case it was done when the regular governor was not in the office.

Sources say this is tricky judicial point pending before the court of law and decision on the same would help the government set future direction on this issue. So it is taking time to wait the decision after putting weight behind Iqbal’s name who is a good confidant of the Sharif brothers and an old guard of the party as well, they add.

After May 2013 elections, Rana Iqbal was in forefront for the slot of Punjab governor but at the eleventh hour he was asked by the party to contest for the speakership in view of his excellent performance as custodian of the Punjab Assembly in the previous term of Shahbaz Sharif government.

Sources say in case Rana gets permanent place as Punjab governor, the sitting deputy speaker of the assembly, Sardar Sher Ali Gorchani, will be put to speaker seat through the constitutionally admitted process while another member will be elected as his deputy.