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LAHORE: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz claims that the Pakistan Peoples Party has declined to support it in the race for forming its government in Punjab if the former ruling party pitched any ‘hawk’ for the slot of chief minister.

“We were told by the former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani-led PPP committee that the party will not support our candidate if he happens to be a hawk,” a PML-N leader privy to the development told Dawn.

Requesting not to be named, he said that they were advised to field a candidate acceptable to ‘all’ and suggested naming a person like outgoing Punjab Assembly speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal instead of Hamza Shahbaz or any other hardliner for the coveted slot of provincial chief executive.

“We were tempted by hinting that Rana Iqbal may also attract some votes of Rajput clan from the rival parties.”

A PPP leader from southern Punjab admits that they had given the suggestion but only in good faith.

The PPP has six MPAs-elect in Punjab and PML-N 130. The latter says many of the 28 independents elected to the Punjab Assembly would have joined the PML-N had the PPP assured of its help in time improving the numbers in favour of the N League.

Before joining of the independents, the PTI had 122 representatives in the Punjab Assembly.

Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2018