ISLAMABAD - Punjab remains a priority target of the main opposition party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and its possible allies as compared to the Centre whenever a move for an in-house change is planned, according to the sources in the opposition party.

Though the PML-N-led opposition alliance has 17 seats less than Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led ruling alliance in the Punjab Assembly as compared to a razor-thin majority of PTI alliance in the national assembly over the opposition parties, yet the Nawaz-led party takes the province as an easy target as compared to the Centre, said the sources. The government alliance including PTI (181), PML-Q (10) and independents (4) has 191 seats while PML-N (166), PPP (7) and Pakistan Rah-e-Haq Party (1) collectively make 174 seats in the Punjab Assembly — the difference remains of 17 seats. There had been frequent reports of the PML-N thinking of in-house change either in the Punjab Assembly or the Centre once party chief Mian Shahbaz Sharif return to Pakistan, most probably in February end.

When the question about what can be the ‘easy target’ for PML-N was put to political analyst Hassan Askari Rizvi, he said first of all Mian Shahbaz Sharif must return to the country as any such move cannot meet success if they are abroad. He was of the view that “Centre wouldn’t be an easy target for PML-N as they may face difficulty in finding like-minded parties over there.” On the other hand, he said, the PML-N is quite stronger in the province and can influence the at-the-moment PTI ally party and members of the provincial assembly individually. “Again the question remains if they [PML-N] would make an attempt… if yes, Punjab would be a favourite ground for the PML-N where they can make defections,” he said. Extending his argument about why Punjab would be the PML-N’s favourite ground whenever they think of an in-house change, Rizvi said “If PML-N succeeds in taking over the province, Centre will automatically fell.” He said PML-N, which ruled the province for decades, enjoys better command over the members of provincial assembly and also understands the dynamics of provincial politics.

The Nawaz-led party believes that toppling the government in Centre may prove quite easy but at the same time formation of government there would be quite difficult, according to the party sources. According to the reports, PML-N has expressed willingness to join forces with Pakistan Muslim League Quaid (PML-Q) and any other party if such a scenario develops. Reportedly, PML-Q leadership has called on former speaker of National Assembly (NA), Sardar Ayaz Sadiq in Lahore as well. The reports said PML-N has offered double-power sharing to PML-Q in Punjab. Furthermore, PML-N will also take Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) into confidence on the matter of in-house change in Punjab. In the latest development, Hamza Shahbaz Sharif had said that PML-N has opened its doors and windows in view of talks about an in-house change. The party sources further said that final decision on the move would be taken on return of the party president from abroad.