ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf’s (PTI) victory in the Prime Minister’s election on Friday (today) is a foregone conclusion, thanks to a last minute refusal of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) to vote for the joint opposition’s candidate Shehbaz Sharif. The PPP took the decision in a consultative meeting on Thursday evening, after the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) dismissed its reservations over Shehbaz’s candidature. Earlier in the day, a meeting was held between delegations of the PPP and the PML-N to make a last ditch effort to iron out differences over the joint opposition’s PM nominee. The meeting ended without consensus.Speaking to the media prior to the meeting, PPP leader Khurshid Shah said that if the PML-N refused to bring a different candidate for the election, the PPP would adopt an autonomous course of action on the matter. He said his party was making efforts to resolve differences over the issue, adding that the final decision would be taken in consultation with party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari. A day earlier, Bilawal had urged the PML-N to change its nominee for the PM’s election. On Thursday, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser declared valid nomination papers of PTI’s Imran Khan and PML-N’s Shehbaz Sharif after no objections were raised on them during the scrutiny phase. The NA session for the PM’s election was summoned on 330pm on Friday (today). The election for the top executive office will be held through open ballot. Imran Khan’s nomination papers were submitted in the House on Wednesday by Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid. PML-N leaders Khawaja Asif and Ahsan Iqbal submitted papers on behalf Shehbaz Sharif.After distribution of reserved seats for women and minorities, the PTI’s strength in the NA stands at 151 seats. With its allies’ seats added to the tally, the party claims support of at least 175 lawmakers, well above 50 percent of the 330 members sworn in so far. Among its allies are Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), three MNAs; Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, seven MNAs; Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), five MNAs; Balochistan National Party-Mengal, four members; Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), three lawmakers; and one member each of the Awami Muslim League (AML) and Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP).The PML-N and the PPP are the second and third largest parties in the Assembly with 81and 54 lawmakers, respectively. The joint opposition also comprises Mutahhida Majlis Amal (MMA) and Awami National Party (ANP).Earlier, the joint opposition had decided to let the PPP nominate the candidate for speaker, MMA for deputy speaker and PML-N for the PM.The election for the speak and deputy speaker slots that took place on Wednesday were secured by PTI nominees, Asad Qaiser and Qasim Suri. Qaiser defeated Khursheed Shah, bagging 176 votes against the latter’s 146 votes. Of the 330 votes cast in the election, 322 were accepted and eight were rejected. The PTI leader was administered oath by outgoing speaker Ayaz Sadiq.Published in Daily Times, August 17th 2018.