Lahore            -            In a major political development, some 15 PTI legislators from central and south Punjab districts have formed their separate group in Punjab Assembly, seemingly to press their government for acceptance of their “legal and constitutional demands.”

Though on the face of it there is nothing to assume that the group will be working against their government, but it may take the form of a forward bloc any time in a different political scenario.

“We have no hidden political motives to achieve. We just want to resolve problems of our constituencies by becoming a one voice”, ring leader of the group Ghazanfar Abbas Chheena told The Nation. He was elected member of Punjab Assembly from Bhakar district in 2018 elections.

 Other members of the group include Aamer Inayat Shahani (Bhakar), Gulraiz Afzal Gondal (Mandi Bahauddin), Faisal Farooq Cheema (Sargodha), Muneeb Sultan Cheema (Sargodha), Taimur Ali Lali (Chinniot), Ahsan Jahangir Bhatti (Hafizabad), Mamoon Tarar (Hafizabad), Ali Raza Khakwani (Vehari), Ejaz Hussain (Vehari), Nawabzada Gazain Abbassi (Bahawalpur), Col (R)Ghazanfar Abbas Shah (Jhang), Shahabuddin (Layya), Mohayyuddin Khosa (DG Khan) and Khawaja Daud Sulemani (Taunsa). 

These legislators are not happy with their own government which they think was not responsive to the problems facing the people in their constituencies. They also resent the slow pace of development work in their constituencies and government’s apathy in resolving their problems.

Notwithstanding their good intentions, it is being viewed as a significant development in the wake of recent reports about change of guard in the province. As the things stand today, the PML-Q, a coalition partner in Punjab, is extremely annoyed with the PTI’s government. Its leaders have threatened to review their alliance with the PTI if their concerns are not addressed within a week.

Members of this rebel group have also taken an oath to stand united in any circumstances. They have held several meetings in the last 15 days to devise a common strategy to move forward for acceptance of their demands.

According Ghazanfar Abbas, their group also had a meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar couple of weeks back to apprize him of their concerns on different issues. “We have got assurances but we will continue to raise a united voice against government policies”, he affirmed.

Ghazanfar pleaded that every district had its own needs and challenges. Giving an example, he said government had closed primary schools in all districts under a uniform policy. “But I am from a backward district (Bhakar) where we need primary schools. Lahore and other developed districts may not need primary schools but we do need this facility”, he made his point, adding that government should consider such disparities while making its policies. 

The PTI lawmaker also made it clear that their alliance was not against the Chief Minister. “We will continue to support the chief minister and the Punjab Government”, he said.

“If we sit together to have lunch or dinner, it should not bother anybody. We are like-minded people and want to draw government’s attention towards the problems facing the people. Our group should not be labeled as forward bloc in the wrong sense”, Mr Abbas concluded.