LAHORE: With the Punjab Assem­bly session likely to be called in a couple of days, the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) — the new home for successful PTI-backed independent candidates — may not get reserved seats for women and minorities, leaving the PML-N with a simple majority in the house.

However, the outgoing speaker of the Punjab Assembly, Sibtain Khan, has warned the government to refrain from calling the provincial assembly session without allocating reserved seats to the SIC.

“The Election Commission of Pakistan is likely to notify allocation of reserved seats in the PA on Wednesday (today),” an official source privy to the development told Dawn on Tuesday.

The source insisted that the Sunni Ittehad Council was unlikely to get its share amid legal questions, recalling that the SIC’s head himself had not contested on his own party ticket. Besides, the deadline to submit a list of candidates for reserved seats has passed.

The source said the PML-N’s parliamentary party meeting would also be held today (Wednesday) and the PA session would be called on Thursday. The source added that after getting the reserved seats for women and minorities, the PML-N would have over 200 MPAs in the Punjab Assembly.

PML-N poised for majority in provincial assembly; more independent candidates join party

On the other hand, Speaker Sibtain Khan said that since the PTI-backed MPAs-elect have joined the SIC, the party should be allocated reserved seats. The provincial assembly session should not be called in a hurry to elect the speaker and the chief minister, as it would be controversial without allocating reserved seats to the SIC.

“A constitutional crisis will follow if the reserved seats of SIC/PTI are given to other parties,” the speaker said.

Meanwhile, two MPAs-elect — Ahsan Raza from Kasur PP-180 and Ghazanfar Qureshi, a retired colonel from Jhang PP-128 — called on Maryam Nawaz Sharif, the PML-N’s nominee for the chief minister’s slot, at her Jati Umra house and announced joining the party of the Sharifs.

Ms Sharif has been meeting top bureaucrats of the province for one week or so as part of her preparations to assume the coveted post.

The PML-N has so far managed to take on board 19 independent MPAs-elect (not backed by PTI) and six MNAs-elect (including one supported by PTI).

According to unofficial election results, the PML-N has 79 seats in the National Assembly and 137 in the Punjab Assembly. Therefore, with the inclusion of 19 independent MPAs-elect, the PML-N number in the provincial assembly has touched 156.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2024

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