ISLAMABAD   -  The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf on Saturday said it has begun talks with independents and small parties, reiterating that it will form governments not only at Centre and in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but also in Punjab.

PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry said yesterday “we have contacted small parties and independent members, they will soon meet party leaders in Islamabad”.

Senior leader Naeemul Haq also told reporters in Bani Gala “the PTI had completed its contacts with independents and other smaller parties to form the next federal and Punjab governments”.

He said they were hoping to form central government within two weeks before Independence Day celebrations on August 14. “We expect that [PTI chief] Imran Khan will take the oath as a prime minister before August 14.”

PTI won 116 seats in Wednesday’s ballot, short of the 137 needed for a simple majority but a surprisingly strong showing. The latest tally, which was updated Saturday afternoon following long delays, showed the outgoing Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz in distant second place with 64 seats.

The party of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan is therefore in a comfortable position at the Centre. It has also swept provincial assembly polls in KP, but Punjab is a problem where it failed to get enough seats to form its government single-handedly.

It secured a little less number of seats than the PML-N, which is therefore claiming its right to rule the most populous and politically important province.

The PTI however insists that with the help of its coalition partner PML-Q (having 8) and by luring maximum number of independents to their camp it will succeed in forming its government.

In the tug of war between the two major parties, the independent candidates (originally 28 in number) have therefore assumed the key role in Punjab.

Four of the independents on Saturday publically announced their support for the PTI, while the party sources claimed they have looped another three independents.

Naeemul Haq in his media talk said that the PTI had made no contact with Pakistan Peoples Party to form federal government. He said that PTI leader Jahangir Tareen was contacting independent candidates.

To a question, he said that PTI had so far made no contacts with former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, an independent member-elect of Punjab Assembly.

Naeem came down hard on JUI-F leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai for announcing their boycott of the oath-taking session of the National Assembly.

“The Maulana has played a negative role in the politics of Pakistan,” he said, adding that both Fazl and Achakzai faced defeat at the hands of PTI and now they were trying to hide their routing by announcing to stay out of the National Assembly. He said they should realise the changing dynamic of Pakistani politics.

The PTI leader appreciated the decision of mainstream parties to participate in the oath-taking ceremony of National Assembly members.



Another ‘chief’ trouble

Hitting the magic figure of 147 members for making the government in Punjab is not the only problem for the PTI leadership, the choice of the chief minister is another trouble. And, on Saturday, the list of party candidates for the coveted slot appeared to be widening.

Naeem in his media talk said that the party would soon finalise the names for the slots of chief ministers in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Earlier Aleem Khan, Fawad Chaudhry, Mian Mahmoodur Rasheed, and Major (r) Tahir Sadiq had appeared as contenders for the post. Of them, Aleem – a key PTI financer – had emerged strongest, as per a senior PTI leader.

But on Saturday, another senior leader – Dr Yasmin Rashid – also emerged as a candidate for the CM slot soon after she met with the PTI chief Imran Khan in Bani Gala.

Dr Yasmin has a very good repute and the PTI supporters are backing her wholeheartedly on the social media.

According to PTI sources, PTI Vice-Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi has also told the party that he was no more interested in the foreign ministry slot and wanted to get be made Punjab CM.

But he will have to contest the by-election on a provincial assembly seat for it, as he has lost election on a Punjab Assembly seat in the Wednesday’s election.



Independents join PTI

Four independent members-elect of Punjab Assembly on Saturday joined the PTI during a meeting with Imran Khan in Bani Gala, improving the tally of its members to 127 from the original 123 members who were elected on PTI tickets.

They were Hussain Jehanian Gardezi from Kabirwala, Syed Rafaqat Ali and Basharat Randhawa from Layyah and Hameed Pitafi from Dera Ghazi Khan.

A statement issued by the party said that these four MPAs would be given important positions in the next provincial government.

Party sources said on Saturday that two independent members of National Assembly (MNA) and three more Punjab Assembly members have decided to join PTI and they would announce it formally after meeting with PTI Chairman Imran Khan.

The two MNAs – who secured victory from Muzaffargarh – are Shabeer Qureshi, who defeated Ghulam Mustafa Khar in NA-181, and Basit Sultan Bukhari, who defeated Moazzam Jataoi in NA-185.

Independent MPAs who would join the party are Khurram Sohail Leghari from PP-275, Alamdar Qureshi from PP-277 and Basit Sultan Bukhari from PP-272.

Staff Reporter from Lahore adds: Another four independent MPAs, from Faisalabad division, have reportedly pledged their support to the PTI for forming its government in Punjab.

PTI Senator Ch Muhammad Sarwar and Jahangir Tareen met Ajmal Cheema in Faisalabad, Rai Taimur Bhatti and Muawiya Azam in Jhang and Malik Taimur Lali in Chiniot.

According to media reports, all four of them have pledged to formally announce their support for the PTI very soon.

If all these new MPAs join the PTI camp, the party would achieve the figure of 134 members. Including the eight PML-Q members, the tally would reach at 142 i.e. just seven members short of the magic figure of 149 that is required to form the government.



PTI approaching near Punjab crown