Political chess in South Punjab — party heavyweights jockey for electables

South Punjab

ISLAMABAD:  The political battleground in South Punjab, centred around 48 National Assembly and 101 provincial assembly seats, remains a hotbed of contention as the race intensifies among key players.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party (IPP) brace for a fierce competition, with the looming question: where will the electables cast their lot?

Intriguingly, over the past two years, 86 former members of the National Assembly and the provincial assembly from South Punjab have bid farewell to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). Surprisingly, 30 former MNAs and 75 ex-members of the provincial assembly remain unaffiliated with any political party.

The titans of Pakistani politics, PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and IPP chief Jahangir Tareen, have initiated discussions with influential figures in South Punjab. The fate of these 86 political players, now free agents, is anticipated to unfold with the announcement of their next political moves within the next two weeks.

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Recalling the electoral landscape, PTI secured 27 National Assembly seats in South Punjab during the 2018 elections, propelling the party to form the government in centre. Conversely, the PML-N clinched 29 National Assembly seats from the region in 2013, forming the government in centre.

Further back in 2008, the PPP dominated with 24 National Assembly seats in South Punjab. In the 2018 elections, the PML-N bagged 12 National Assembly seats, whereas in 2008, it secured 11. The PTI, in 2013 elections, managed to clinch two National Assembly seats, but in 2008, the party faced a setback, failing to secure any seats in the region.

The electoral dynamics for the PPP in South Punjab saw a win of five National Assembly seats in 2018 and two in 2013, adding another layer to the unfolding political drama. The tussle for supremacy in this pivotal region continues, setting the stage for a high-stakes political showdown.

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