LAHORE  -  The PML-N is set to contest election in Punjab without entering any alliance with other political parties but it is likely to make electoral partnerships in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan where the party does not have enough strength to get a good share of seats by going solo.

In Sindh, the focus of Nawaz League is Karachi, and the final decision of the leadership about forging alliances there on party level or making seat adjustments is still awaited from the party.

In Punjab, the province which has been the mainstay of PML-N, the party has so far dropped no hint of joining hands with any significant political party or group.

The party is putting the candidates in those constituencies also where previously it was being presumed it will support its disgruntled leaders contesting as independents by not fielding its ticket holders. Of 141 general seats of Punjab, the PML-N has so far fielded candidates on 129 seats while it is mulling to fill in the rest ones also by today.

Party sources say they are facing problems in certain areas – like some constituencies of Jhang, Bahwalnagar and Borewala – where old party candidates are annoyed.

They say the party may prefer to back a potential independent candidate if it fails to find an electable in these constituencies, or it may forge alliances with religio-political parties to muster support for its own candidates in the problematic parts of province.

In Sindh, the PML-N is mainly focusing on Karachi although it has fielded candidates on 31 of the total 61 general National Assembly seats of this province.

Party president Shehbaz Sharif is also contesting polls from NA-249 constituency of Karachi, where the party has fielded candidates in 19 constituencies. The rest of the candidates have been fielded in Heyderabad and Interior Sindh.

PML-F and other nationalist parties, which in the past had been making electoral alliance or seat adjustments with the PML-N, have now formed their own Grant Democratic Alliance (GDA) – which enjoys big clout in the interior Sindh politics.

The GDA is focussing on their own candidates and relying less on other parties. Therefore, the possibly of GDA and PML-N coming together on the interior Sind seats is almost nil.

The situation however is somewhat different in Karachi, where the PML-N has old friendly parties like JUI-F, JI and ANP that have strong pockets of influence.

Karachi has been an MQM stronghold for years. The PPP also has strong vote bank in some areas of the port city, especially in Lyari. However the electoral muscle of religious parties in this mega city also cannot be discounted.

There is no chance of an alliance between PML-N and PPP – which has ruled Sindh for long, primarily owing to its grip over interior Sindh.

The MQM is in total disarray. Its three major factions however wish to come together to avoid division of the Mohajir vote because they stand little chance of winning anywhere if they contest against one another.

In the last general elections, the PML-N had won one NA and two PA seats in Karachi without assistance of any others. The N League claims it is in a better position this time in Karachi than the last election. The party can further improve its position if any of the MQM factions joins hands with it, but the chance of it, as of today, are quite bleak as no move from either side has been made in this regard.

As to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, sources say, the PML-N local leadership is examining the situation as to where the party needed help of other parties and where it can contest independently.

In Balochistan the PML-N has old coalition partners like PKMAP and National Party while in KPK it has JUI-F and ANP while Quami Wattan Party, who had partnered with PTI in the initial years of the KPK government, is also there.

Sources say even if the PML-N will need help of other parties in the said provinces, it may prefer to do seat adjustment instead of striking the electoral alliance. However, they said, any decision as to seat adjustment or independently contesting the election may be decided as the electioneering will progress. 

As to JUI-F and JI, they are now part of the MMA which has been recently revived and is taking part in election particularly in Balochistan and KPK with a renewed spirit. Therefore, sources say, seat adjustment with any MMA party, will not be that simple this time as it was observed in the last election when this five-party alliance separately contested the polls.

Sources say the PML-N may take into account the option of striking understanding with other parties but only after it has finalised award of the tickets all over the country.