LAHORE - Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf is set to capture Punjab with the help of independents though the PML-N is slightly ahead of the PTI in the numbers game.

According to unofficial results, the PML-N is taking lead on 134 provincial seats closely followed by the PTI with 126 seats. Independents have won 29 seats out of the total 297 general seats.

Party sources said that negotiations were underway with the independents to form government in Punjab. Traditionally the independents go with the party which they think is going to form the next government.

PTI’s ally, PML-Q, has also won 6 seats according to unofficial results so far and these votes would also go the PTI. PPP claims to have won eight provincial seats.

In a House of 371, 186 seats are required to form the government.

In this way, any party who wins 148 general seats out of total 297 can form government after addition 38 reserved seats for women and non-Muslims.

As the PTI is preparing to form its government in Punjab, party leadership is clueless about their party’s nominee for the office of Punjab Chief Minister. It’s because Shah Mehmood Qureshi could not win a provincial seat and Jehangir Khan Tareen has already been disqualified for holding any public office.

Ch Muhammad Sarwar is a Senator now. Though the ex-Leader of the Opposition Mian Mehmoodur Rashid has won a provincial seat from Lahore, but he is less likely to fall in Khan’s choice for the coveted slot.

Apparently, Aleem Khan seems to the only choice, but Khan is being advised from different quarters against Aleem’s nomination.

Aleem Khan is serious contender for the coveted slot as he cannot be accommodated in the Federal Cabinet since he has lost election on a National Assembly seat from Lahore while contesting against Sardar Ayyaz Sadiq of the PML-N.

Aleem Khan has been funding the party and it was because of this reason that he was often dubbed by the ruling PML-N as Imran Khan’s ATM machine along with Tareen. He is eyeing this office to reap fruits of his services.

Since the PTI’s nominee for the Punjab Chief Minister has to be a pick of the bunch, only the party Chairman will have to take this difficult decision in few days.

Also, the new Punjab Assembly may not see some of the former legislators who gained prominence in the previous Assembly.

Speaker Punjab Assembly Rana Muhammad Iqbal (He will remain Speaker till the new Assembly elects a new Speaker) is most likely to return to the Assembly as he was leading in his constituency by 2000 votes in a contest against cousin, Rana Aslam of the PTI.

In case, Rana Iqbal emerges victorious, he may have to sit on the Opposition benches this time. Former Deputy Speaker Sher Ali Gorchani has lost election on two PA seats and hence he will not be part of the new Assembly. 

Former Law Minister Rana Sanaullah will now take a seat in the National Assembly as he lost his provincial seat this time.

Former Punjab Minister for Education Raza Ali Gilani has lost his seat to Jugnu Mohsin, an independent candidate. She will be a new entry in the Punjab Assembly.

Ex-provincial Minister Syed Zaeem Qadri also lost his election after parting ways with the PML-N. A most vibrant former MPA of PTI Shoaib Siddiqui also could not make it to the new this time.

Though former Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif has won two Punjab Assembly seats and his son Hamza has also been elected on one Provincial  Assembly seat, but both of them might have to vacate their provincial seats if the PNL-N fails to form its government in Punjab.

Four ex-Provincial Ministers from Lahore, Rana Mashhood Ahmad Khan, Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman, Khawaja Imran Nazir and Bilal Yasin have returned to the Assembly.

Ali Haider Gilani, son of ex-Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani who was abducted by Taliban days before 2013 elections, has won a Provincial Assembly seat from Multan. He will be a new entry in the Punjab Assembly. His elder brother Abdul Qadir Gilani was member Punjab Assembly from 2008 to 2013, but he has lost election against a National Assembly seat from Multan against Malik Ahmad Hussain Dehr of PTI.