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LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) circles see the nomination of Chaudhry Sarwar as Punjab governor a significant move by the party to politically `handle’ the PML-N in its stronghold.

Besides performing his constitutional duties as governor, sources in the party say, Mr Sarwar may be guiding the chief minister, if he or she happens to be a young candidate – as hinted by party chairman Imran Khan.

“Chaudhry Sarwar will be a politically active governor besides vigorously pursuing his passion to promote education and provide clean drinking water to the masses across the province,” a senior party leader said.

Sources say Mr Sarwar is the only leader who can give tough time to the PML-N in Punjab, which would be focusing its politics in the province. Former slain Governor Salman Taseer had also played an active role during his tenure and the PPP seemed strong in Punjab as all their political matters were referred to the Governor House.

Mr Sarwar was recently elected a senator from Punjab and steered the party to get stronger in Punjab. He had resigned from Punjab governor office under the PML-N rule in January 2015 and immediately joined the PTI.

In the Senate election from Punjab in March this year, Mr Sarwar had pulled a surprise by snatching a Senate general seat with a majority first priority vote in the Punjab Assembly despite being short of the required number – when PML-N was ruling full throttle in centre and Punjab. He topped the seven candidates’ list on general seats with 44 first priority votes, while his party had 30 members in the assembly. Some 20 women MPAs of PML-N had voted for him.

Mr Sarwar is also considered having good ties with the Gujrat’s Chaudhry family as he had bagged PML-Q votes for his election as Senator.

“I will serve in Punjab with the best of my abilities and come up to the expectations of party chairman Imran Khan, who chose me for the position,” said Mr Sarwar. Since the people of Punjab have given their decision in favour of the PTI, he said, the party would not disappoint them while working on a mission to serve masses.

Mr Sarwar is a former member of the British parliament and abandoned his political career in Glasgow to serve in Pakistan in 2013. He joined the PML-N and was made the Punjab governor after the party won 2013 general elections in the centre as well as in Punjab.

Other than the governor office, PTI leadership and MPAs are also agreed upon the nomination of former chief minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi as Punjab Assembly speaker and want early decisions about the nomination of chief minister and deputy speaker.

Mr Khan has deferred the chief minister’s nomination till the election of Punjab Assembly speaker expected early next week, a source privy to developments told Dawn.

Sources say the chief minister will be a “party stalwart” shunning rumours that any newcomer can be nominated for the chief ministership.

Party MPAs, however, expressed their concerns over prolonged indecision. “An appropriate decision well in time can kill rumours among candidates,” an MPA said.

Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2018