ISLAMABAD - Tug of war for Takht-i-Lahore (Punjab government) between Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf was at its peak as both parties have made it a do or die game putting in everything to meet the number game.

Though with a thin margin of six or seven seats, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has emerged as a single-largest party but on the other hand Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) in alliance with PML-Q claimed its majority and also claimed the support of another 18 independents who would announce their joining the party in a day or so after meeting Imran Khan at Banni Gala.

For PTI the government in Punjab would be much more significant as without the Punjab government PTI leadership considered it an extremely difficult task to run the government at centre with a fragile majority as the results of the National Assembly suggest.

It was this strong realisation that at initial stage when only 20 to 25 per cent results on National and provincial assemblies seats were announced and overall picture was vague PTI central leader Naeemul Haq came on media and said that PTI would also be forming government in Punjab as well.

People in politics knew it well that without having hold on Punjab even a strong government at the centre could not function smoothly. The memories of how PPP coalition government in late 80s had faced difficulties in smooth functioning in the presence of PML-N government in Punjab were fresh so PTI would not like to land in such a situation where PML-N government in Punjab would pose a serious challenge to its smooth sailing.

PTI leadership had tasked Aleem Khan, Jahangir Tareen, former government Punjab Ch Sarwar and even Ch. Pervaiz Elahi to reach out the independent MPs in Punjab to ease out formation of its government in the province.

Sources aware of the development on this front informed that PTI had managed wooing the support of some 18 independent MPAs most of whom were PML-N dissidents and had left the party owing to continuous apathy toward them by the party leadership.

On the other hand formation of government in Punjab is much more vital for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz which had roots in the province for well over three decades and for past two terms PML-N had served in government.

Sources in the party informed that for keeping the party intact and to have some leverage in power game PML-N required to have power in the province and that was the reason they central leaders of the party were doing whatever they could to win over the independents and even ready to reach out to Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid to form government.

These sources further said that although the party has a little edge in tally over PTI, the party leadership is facing problems in winning over the support of independent MPAs most of whom had left them before the elections owing to the maltreatment meted out to them by the party in past five years in power.

Similarly, the overall tendency in Punjab politics is that people would prefer to join the party which would not only form the government in the province but would also have government at centre and this power-centric politics in the province has surely placed PTI in advantageous position.