Islamabad: Pakistan’s Punjab Assembly will head back to vote on Friday to elect the new leader of the house as ordered by the country’s Supreme Court to settle the issue of the ‘disputed elections’ of the incumbent chief minister, Hamza Shehbaz, earlier this year, Express Tribune reported.
In accordance with the orders of the apex court, the run-off polls are taking place five days after the by-polls on 20 seats that fell vacant after the disqualification of PTI defectors who voted for Hamza, in a new, reconstituted House with a changed electoral college.
PML-Q’s Pervaiz Elahi – PTI’s candidate – and the incumbent chief minister are now competing for the coveted post.
The bitterly contested political territory is buzzing with activities ranging from alleged parleys to peeling off lawmakers from across the aisle, a flurry of meetings between political heavyweights, and desperate labor to deliver a “last-minute shock” to the other side. Nonetheless, both the PTI-PML-Q alliance and the PML-N-led government have tried to put on a bold face.
However, the PTI, fresh off a victory in the recent Punjab by-polls, certainly has the advantage and is entering the critical stretch of its plans to gather up the reins of the province it lost in a controversial chief minister’s election.
If it wins Friday’s contest, Imran Khan’s PTI will gain the political weightage it has been chasing to undercut the power of its arch-rivals in the Centre and pave the way back to Islamabad.
On the other hand, in a bid to hold the apparently slipping ground tight, the ruling PML-N has become feistier in its efforts to exhaust all options in its fast-shrinking room to save the Hamza-led government that was allowed by the apex court to continue only until today’s crucial elections.
A potential defeat would virtually leave the PML-N waiting for the other shoe to drop – a domino effect in Islamabad where the incumbent chief minister’s father, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, is keeping tabs on the province’s politics with bated breath.
With approximately 186 members, the PTI holds a majority in the 371-seat assembly. Before the PA by-polls, the opposition – PTI (158 MPAs) and PMLQ (10 MPAs) – had a total strength of 168.
Following the ECP’s notification on five reserved seats, the number increased to 173. The tally increased after it won seats in the by-elections.
Meanwhile, the PML-N, after grabbing four seats in the by-elections, has the strength of 180.