ISLAMABAD: After his party emerged victorious in by-elections on majority of seats of Punjab Assembly, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan once again reiterated on Sunday his demand to hold free and fair general elections in the country but under a credible Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), warning that “any other path” would lead to further debacle. “The only way forward from here is to hold fair and free elections under a credible ECP. Any other path will only lead to greater political uncertainty and further economic chaos,” he tweeted.
Khan thanked the PTI workers and voters of Punjab for “defeating not just PML-N candidates but the entire state machinery, especially harassment by police, and a totally biased ECP. Thank you to all our allies, PML-Q, MWM and Sunni Ittehad Council.”
The PTI chief’s tweets came on the heels of unofficial results, till the filing of this report Sunday late night, suggesting that PTI grabbed a lion’s share in the by-polls by clinching not less than 16 seats while Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) ended up with only three seats and one seat was secured by an independent candidate.
In 371-member PA, 186 seats are required to attain simple majority to form the government with election of chief minister Punjab scheduled July 22.
With the notification of PTI’s five members provincial assembly (MPAs) on reserved seats on July 6, the opposition’s strength in PA increased to 173 seats—163 seats of PTI and 10 seats of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q).
This means opposition coalition needed to win at least 13 of 20 seats in July 17 by-elections to secure 186 votes in the CM Punjab election. After winning 16 seats, the opposition’s strength has increased to 189 members in the provincial legislature with some independents likely to side with the PTI.
On the other hand, with the disqualification of PML-N MPA Kashif Mehmood at the hands of Islamabad High Court (IHC) and then Supreme Court in fake degree case, the ruling coalition’s strength in PA was reduced to 176 seats.
In another massive setback to the provincial government, PML-N MPA Faisal Niazi stepped down from his seat and joined PTI— further reducing the treasury’s strength to 175 seats. Another PML-N MPA Jamil Sharqpuri has also quitted PA membership– reducing the ruling set-up’s strength to 174 votes, 12 votes short of 186. In the provincial ruling set-up, PML-N now has 163 seats, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has seven seats, there are three independents and Raah-e-Haq Party has only one seat. Reports suggest that resignations of more PML-N MPAs are in the offing—a scenario that predicts the end of PML-N led provincial government in Punjab.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022