ISLAMABAD    -  The much-anticipated but watertight decision of the Supreme Court that struck down the election of Hamza She­hbaz as chief minister Punjab has brought the opposition Pakistan Teh­reek-e-Insaf (PTI) in a comfortable position to push the rul­ing coalition for early elections.

The decision of the three-member bench headed by Chief Jus­tice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial has not only brought the PTI back into power in Punjab, the country’s largest province, just over three months af­ter its ouster but has also paved the way for the fresh election—the only solution to end this on-going political instability and chaos.

Though the ruling coalition was already expecting such a de­cision but even then, it is shocking for them, espe­cially for the PML-N who has been not only de­throned from its pow­er-base but also it has limited Prime Minister Shehbaz Shar­if’s rule to the centre only. The recapture of power in Punjab by PTI would also prove a big blow for the on-going investigations in cor­ruption cases against its leaders including Farah Gogi, a close friend of Imran Khan’s wife. These investigations were being car­ried out by the Anti-Corruption Es­tablishment Punjab, which comes under the administrative control of the provincial government.

From the day one since PTI was ousted from power, the opposi­tion party has been demanding the fresh election after dissolution of assemblies but the ruling coalition turned a deaf ear to the call of ear­ly polls. With the election of Per­vaiz Ellahi as the new chief exec­utive of the province, the PTI now holds power in two provinces, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It can now use the option of dis­solution of both provincial assem­blies to force PM Shehbaz’s cen­tral government to announce early elections.

Before the next general elections, PTI wants to sit with all the parties in the ruling coalition on the negoti­ation table to bring another ‘elector­al reforms’, and to reconstitute the Election Commission of Pakistan – its two primary demands at the mo­ment. Background discussions with some senior party leaders point out that the major opposition party in the centre first would seek from the ruling coalition to announce the date of the fresh elections before holding talks on these two issues. Besides this, the only sticking point right now is the appointment of the next Army chief as the incumbent Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa is set to retire in Novem­ber this year.