LAHORE: After a clear message from the PML-N that it is unlikely to award tickets to PTI ‘turncoats’ in the upcoming general elections, the 40 or so ‘electables’ from south Punjab, led by Jahangir Tareen and Aleem Khan, are said to be weighing their options: whether to launch a new party or join the PPP.

Another stalwart — former Punjab governor Chaudhry Sarwar — who has strained relations with both the PML-N and PTI, also sees his future lying with either the Peoples Party or the Tareen group.

At least 25 PTI MPAs — including Aleem Khan — had violated the party line last year and voted for PML-N chief minister candidate Hamza Shehbaz. Under the court’s order these lawmakers stood disqualified.

The PML-N awarded them tickets for the by-polls last July in return for their ‘sacrifice’. However, almost all of them lost to the PTI, paving the way for the ouster of short-lived chief minister Hamza Shehbaz.

Tareen, Aleem, Sarwar among those said to be in talks to form own party or join PPP

Similarly, some PTI dissident MNAs from the Tareen group had joined hands with the PML-N-led coalition in the Centre — incumbent opposition leader Raja Riaz is one of them. They are also said to be exploring future political options.

The move comes after Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah recently spoke his party’s mind on the future of the PTI dissidents.

He blamed the ‘turncoat factor’ for their loss in the July by-polls and declared that they would not be considered for tickets in the next general election. “The PML-N will prefer the candidates based on the wishes of the workers of the constituencies,” Sanaullah had said.

A dissident PTI lawmaker while speaking to Dawn on Saturday said that after getting a cold shoulder from the PML-N, a debate had begun within the group over whether they should launch their own party or explore other options.

PTI chairman Imran Khan has already alleged that the establishment is “sending elec­tables in the south” to the PPP.

It is worth recalling that over a decade ago, former federal minister Jahangir Khan Tareen had floated the idea of launching a party of ‘clean politicians’ as an “alternative to PML-N and PPP”.

PPP south Punjab chief coordinator Abdul Qadir Shaheen told Dawn that Chaudhry Sarwar had recently called on Makhdoom Ahmad Mahmood and former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani, where he expressed his wish to join the PPP. “Similarly, Jahangir Tareen has also been in contact and soon a group of south Punjab electables, that was earlier associated with the PTI will join the PPP,” he said.

“Although the formation of a new party is also one of the options being discussed, its chances are slim. Eventually, their destination will be the PPP,” Mr Shaheen declared.

A source close to Chaudhry Sarwar told Dawn that the former governor was weighing his options, whether to take up the PPP on its invitation or form a new group.

Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2023

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