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Waseem Qadir, an independent candidate backed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) who emerged victorious in the February 8 elections from Lahore’s NA-121 constituency, has officially joined the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
In a video statement released by the PML-N, Qadir is seen alongside key party figures, including Chief Organiser Maryam Nawaz, declaring his return “back home.”
Qadir, who defeated PML-N’s Sheikh Rohail Asgher by over 8,000 votes, expressed his commitment to the development of his constituency and its residents as he announced his affiliation with the PML-N. This move marks a significant setback for PTI, particularly as both PML-N and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) actively seek support from independent candidates to strengthen their positions.
The former PTI leader, now the first elected member to depart from the party post-elections, emphasized his decision to join the PML-N for the betterment of his constituency and its people.
With the loss of the NA-121 seat, PTI faces heightened challenges, given the strategic importance of alliances in the post-election scenario. PML-N, securing 79 seats after the vote, lacks a clear majority but stands as the largest single party in the parliament. The aftermath of the elections has intensified uncertainty, with both PTI and PML-N claiming victory, complicating the formation of a stable government.
As the country grapples with pressing issues, including negotiations for a new International Monetary Fund program to stabilize the economy, the upcoming days will witness crucial coalition talks. The prime ministerial candidate must secure a simple majority of 169 seats in the National Assembly, a goal dependent on successful coalition negotiations and the potential inclusion of Khan-backed independents into a smaller party bloc.
During the pre-election period, Qadir campaigned extensively, urging voters to support him as the representative of the incarcerated PTI leader, Imran Khan. Despite PTI’s earlier warnings about potential party defections, the departure of Waseem Qadir underscores the challenges faced by PTI in maintaining party loyalty.