LAHORE, May 14: Already enjoying a two-thirds majority in the Punjab Assembly, the PML-N further consolidated its position in the provincial house by roping in 34 out of the 39 independent MPAs-elect.

The composition of the provincial house will be almost like what it was in 1997 when the N-League had secured 210 out of total 238 seats (88 per cent), reducing the opposition to less than three dozen seats.

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has emerged as the second-largest party in Punjab by securing 19 seats as the Pakistan People’s Party and the PML-Q could not even reach the double digit.

Immediately after announcement of the election results and before other political players could recover from the shock, the PML-N began reaching out to independent candidates to keep the opposition’s numbers as lean as possible.

The PML-N formed a committee, consisting of Khwaja Ahmed Hassan, Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman, Rana Sanaullah and Khwaja Saad Rafique to woo the independents, and it worked.

On Tuesday, some 34 independent MPAs-elect called on former Punjab chief minister and provincial head of PML-N Shahbaz Sharif here and announced joining the party.

Talking to newsmen along with the new entrants at Raiwind, Shahbaz said many independent candidates had joined the PML-N and more were expected to join the party soon.

Asked if he would continue criticising President Asif Zardari, he said as the election campaign had come to an end, the bitterness of the electioneering should also be forgotten. He, however, said those who plundered the national wealth would be held accountable and every single penny would be recovered from them.

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