PESHAWAR, May 13: Thirteen newly-elected independent members in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly hold the bargaining chip as political parties intensified wrangling for formation of the next government in the province.

Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F and Pakistan Muslim League-N, three leading power brokers in the assembly have separately approached newly-elected non-party members and invited them to join the parties.

PTI provincial president Asad Qaiser, whose party had won 35 general seats in the assembly, said that he had approached five independent members and invited them to join treasury benches.

Sources said that independent MPA-elect from Haripur Gohar Nawaz Khan had met PTI leader Yousaf Ayub on Monday and invited them to join the party. PTI requires 63 votes in the 124-member house for the formation of next government in the province.

On the other hand JUI-F which is trying to snatch victory from the PTI jaws is making desperate attempts to garner support of independents to increase its strength in the assembly.

Former chief minister Akram Khan Durrani claimed that at least 10 independent members had assured him of formally joining JUI-F. “Ten independent MPAs will announce joining our party in the next few days,” he told Dawn. JUI-F has won 13 seats in the provincial assembly but the party was striving to form government. It is worth mentioning that JUI-F was expecting winning 45 to 50 seats in the provincial assembly.

However some of the non-party members have yet to show their cards. Independent members are meeting in Peshawar within the next 48 hours in Peshawar in which they will chalk out their future line of action.

Sources said that these independent MPAs-elect would either join political parties or form their own parliamentary group in the assembly. MPA elect from Abbottabad Mushtaq Ghani said that independent members might form their own group instead of joining parties. PML-N has also contacted another newly-elected independent member from Abbottabad Qalandar Khan Lodhi and invited him to join the party.

Israrullah Khan Gandapur and Sameeullah Alizai, who have been elected from PK-67 and PK-65 as independent, respectively who had seat to seat adjustment with the JUI-F before elections in Dera Ismail Khan said that JUI would be their first priority.

“We will give preference to JUI-F, if it forms government in the province and will support,” said Gandapur. Mr Alizai also said that he was with Maulana Fazlur Rehman and would not join others. Another MPA-elect from PK-68, Javed Akbar Khan, who had also managed seat adjustment with JUI-F, said that he was in contact with the PML-N and added he had agreed to join the party.

Various political parties had also invited Awami Jamhuri Ittehad Pakistan, a regional political group in Swabi district. The group has won three seats in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly and one in National Assembly from Swabi.

MPA-elect Shahram Khan Tarakai said that various political parties including PTI had approached his party and sought its help in the formation of government in the province. “We are yet to decide, but will definitely support a likeminded party in the assembly,” he said.

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