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LAHORE: Former Punjab chief minister Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo sees an independent group of candidates emerging in central Punjab too.

“An independent group in central Punjab will emerge soon after the incumbent government completes its term by the end of this month,” he said while talking to Dawn by phone on Monday. “The group will comprise not only PML-N deserters but also those political figures who have either left the PTI or unable to get party ticket.”

A similar group had earlier appeared in South Punjab in the name of Janoobi Punjab Suba Mahaz but it joined the PTI within days of its inception.

Mr Wattoo, who is also senior vice-president of the PPP, denies PTI vice-chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s claim that he too would contest the upcoming election as an independent candidate.

“I’m standing with the party and will remain so. Mr Qureshi must not have made such a prediction about me,” he said.

South Punjab PPP chapter president Makhdoom Ahmad Mahmood has also denied Mr Qureshi’s claim that he too would be contesting the polls as an independent if not joining any other political platform.

“What a funny thing Mr Qureshi has said. I’m framing election strategy for my party in South Punjab, have held a grand public meeting in Layyah recently to the expectations of all.

How could I think of myself taking part in the polls from a platform other than the PPP?”

The PTI leader had stated in a private TV programme that both Mr Wattoo and Mr Mahmood beside some others would be contesting as independent candidates for they believed that they couldn’t make it to the victory stand with the “PPP baggage”.

Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2018