LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) claims that it has finalised its candidate for the slot of the Punjab chief minister but is withholding his name on the request of its ally PML-Q.

“Party chairman Imran Khan had selected the nominee for the office of chief minister many days ago but his name is being kept secret on the insistence of the PML-Q which wants to delay making public the nomination until elections of the Punjab Assembly’s speaker and deputy speaker,” a senior PTI leader told Dawn after the oath-taking of MPAs-elect here on Wednesday.

“PML-Q leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, who is also the two parties’ joint nominee for the slot of speaker, impressed upon Imran Khan that the chief minister-designate should be announced after the polling for speaker and deputy speaker to curtail chances of losing the two offices which have gained significance in the wake of a numerically strong opposition in the house,” he said.

Polls for both the positions are scheduled to be held on Thursday (today).

The PTI leader, who is also a candidate for the coveted office of the provincial chief executive, said the Q League feared that internal rifts on the nomination could damage the coalition interests in the polls for the slots of speaker and deputy speaker.

A close aide to Mr Elahi confirmed the report and said clinching of the speaker’s office is important for successfully containing the opposition which almost equals in parliamentary numerical strength in the house. He claimed that once elected as speaker, Mr Elahi would be able to persuade many opposition MPAs to vote for the PTI-Q joint candidate for the chief minister.

If elected it will be the second term of Mr Elahi as speaker. He had earlier served on the post during 1997-99. He is also a former chief minister (2002-07) and has returned to the house after 11 years.

Published in Dawn, August 16th, 2018