LAHORE: With political lobbying taking a centre stage across the country, electables belonging to south Punjab are also weighing options to make a “right political move” after they received “signals from powerful quarters”.

These electables play an important role in the electoral politics of south Punjab, as unlike other parts of the province, major political parties, PML-N, PPP or PTI, are not dominant in comparison with independent politicians.

Earlier, there were speculations that these politicians were mulling options to make a new political party to bag a maximum number of slots in the upcoming general elections.

However, its key member Aleem Khan reportedly distanced himself from these rumours and said at present he was only interested in ‘welfare work’.

A source close to Mr Khan said that the real estate tycoon was interested in a change of roles and instead of an active political career, he was hoping for a role of ‘political manipulator’ as that would earn him more clout.

Jahangir Khan Tareen, the main leader of the south Punjab clique, has not said anything regarding the proposed plan to create a group like the Janoobi Punjab Suba Mahaz (JPSM), which emerged in the lead-up to the 2018 polls.

The JPSM, led by Khusro Bakhtiyar, merged into the PTI after the elections.

However, PM’s adviser Aun Chaudhry, who is from Tareen’s group, said that there were no plans to launch any new group or party and that they would remain an ally of the PML-N.

On the other hand, former Punjab governor Chaudhry Sarwar declared that he would make his political move ‘very soon’. “I met the PPP and PML-Q leaders. In the coming days, I am going to see more political people before making a final decision,” Mr Sarwar told Dawn on Sunday.

Mr Sarwar had two stints as governor appointed by the PML-N and PTI, but he fell out with both of them for one or another reason. He is said to be in contact with the establishment and may decide his future course of action on its advice.

Snub from PML-N

The PTI electables from southern Punjab felt the need to make themselves relevant after a clear message from the PML-N leadership that the party might not award tickets to them because of their humiliating defeat in the by-polls in July.

The PML-N 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.

A senior PML-N lawmaker from Punjab told Dawn on Sunday that his party had the compulsion to award tickets to 25 PTI dissidents in last year’s polls as they had sacrificed their seats to support the PML-N in the chief minister’s election.

“However, in this year’s general elections, we will decide the award of tickets in these constituencies keeping in view the ground realities and sentiments of our workers. And there is very little chance that PML-N will award tickets to these dissidents. Therefore, they are weighing their options to form a JPSM-like group or join the PPP,” he said.

Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2023

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