ISLAMABAD    -    Pakistan People’s Party supremo Asif Ali Zardari remains a big player in Punjab despite a small number of lawmakers in the provincial assembly which stays at almost an equal number of members on either side of the aisle.

Chief Minister Hamza Sharif, who has been asked to continue at the post until a decision by the Supreme Court, has only a razor thin majority and that too, by excluding the 10 Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid-e-Azam) lawmakers. If these are counted in favour of PML-Q leader, Hamza Sharif automatically stands on the left side of the speaker - the opposition. Yesterday, the ruling alliance decided to file a plea in the Supreme Court for the formation of a full court to hear the petition filed against Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari’s ruling in favour of Hamza Shehbaz as Chief Minister.

In their joint declaration, the ruling allied parties unanimously said it will be fair that full court comprising all respected judges of the apex court should hear the Supreme Court Bar Association review petition.

Also yesterday, the PPP decided to submit application in the Supreme Court today (July 25) in constitutional petition Chaudhry Pervez Ellahi vs Punjab Assembly’s deputy speaker. Eminent constitutional expert Farooq Naek arrived in Islamabad last night for this purpose.

PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, a former president, believes PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain has the authority to decide about party’s voting options.

“The PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) will not be allowed to come to power through the backdoor. There cannot be two laws for PTI and others. If Imran Khan (as PTI chairman) decides the party’s position, other party heads have the same authority,” Zardari was quoted as saying by a close aide.

The aide told The Nation that the PPP, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and others will make every effort to stop the PTI from coming to power.

“(PTI) People are in contact with Zardari. They have no trust in Imran Khan. The PTI cannot even ensure its own voters to vote for them. Zardari is a big player in Punjab. Our lawmakers’ strength (in Punjab Assembly) does not do justice to our actual position. Zardari will decide who will be the CM in Punjab even if there is a re-election. We have a solid base in Punjab which we will demonstrate in the general elections,” he added.

PPP leader Nisar Khoro said if the ruling of the Punjab Assembly deputy speaker is rejected, then the ruling of Muzaffar Shah in the Senate should also be rejected who served as the presiding officer in the election for Senate chairman last year and rejected seven votes in favour of the opposition candidate Yousaf Raza Gilani’s, giving lead to Sadiq Sanjrani in election as the Senate Chairman.

He reminded that the votes of 25 members of PTI were not counted on the direction of Imran Khan and they were de-seated. “How can it be that Imran Khan’s instructions to his members through letter as party chief in Punjab are constitutional and Chaudhry Shujaat’s instructions through letter as party chief are unconstitutional,” he maintained.

“If Muzaffar Shah’s ruling on the rejection of 7 votes in the election of Yousaf Raza Gilani as the Senate Chairman is considered final, then the ruling of the Punjab Assembly’s deputy speaker   should also be final,” he insisted.

Khoro said Imran Khan was being abandoned by his allies. “Imran Khan supports dictatorship and is against democracy and democratic forces,” he contended.