PTI’s key members shuffled for battle ahead

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Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan’s decision to change the presidents of the three regions in Punjab is a significant move at a time when the party is at a crossroads to mobilise the masses to participate in the second phase of long march and contest by-election on 20 Punjab Assembly seats in the face of “state power”.

The joint opposition PTI and PML-Q as well as ruling coalition PML-N and PPP need to grab a maximum number of seats to attain 186 members’ strength. The magic number will help the treasury save its government and even oust Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, while this figure for the joint opposition means toppling the government and regaining power in Punjab.

Annoyed over PTI Punjab leaders’ failure to mobilise the masses to participate in party’s May 25 long march and consequent bashing by the ruling PML-N, Mr Khan has appointed Dr Yasmin Rashid as party’s central Punjab president vice Shafqat Mahmood (former federal education minister). Former federal minister Hammad Azhar has been appointed as general secretary.

PTI North Punjab president Sadaqat Ali Abbasi has been replaced by Aamir Mehmood Kiyani, while Khusro Bakhtiar has been replaced by Aon Abbas Buppi as PTI south region president.

All the three new presidents have been tasked to put in “greater focus” on the ongoing public mobilisation and prepare the party in Punjab for the upcoming by-elections scheduled for July 17.

There are eight PA seats each in the central and south Punjab regions and four seats in North Punjab. The PML-N has attained party strength of 174 MPAs as two rebels have rejoined it while two more rebels Jalil Sharaqpuri and Faisal Niazi could also join it as the ‘opportunity’ to violate party line or even abstaining from voting for the leader of the house has gone. The PTI has a total strength of 168 MPAs including 10 PML-Q members.

The PML-N is comfortable as it needs to win 12 more seats while the PTI needs to win 18 seats to be able to give a tough time to the ruling PML-N. In case, the PML-N will attain the 186 magic number, it will be in a position to oust PA Speaker Parvez Elahi through the re-submitted no-confidence motion.

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