No consensus yet on Senate deputy chair

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Senator Rubina Irfan of PML-Q Balochistan emerges as top contender as meeting at Chaudhry Shujaat’s residence remains inconclusive in naming consensus candidate

A meeting of political leaders belonging to all parties in parliament, except the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), on Wednesday failed to evolve consensus on a candidate for the post of Senate deputy chairperson, as sources told Pakistan Today that Senator Rubina Irfan of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) Balochistan has emerged as the top contender for the position.

The matter was discussed at a meeting held at PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain’s residence. The meeting included Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party’s (PkMAP) Mehmood Khan Achakzai, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl’s (JUI-F) Fazlur Rehman, Pakistan People’s Party’s (PPP) Syed Khurshid Shah, National Party’s Hasil Bizenjo and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Kulsoom Parveen.

According to sources, PPP has supported Rubina Irfan for deputy chairperson. Rubina Irfan is daughter-in-law of the Khan of Kalat and belongs to the Baloch tribe, Zehri. Her husband Prince Irfan is nephew of Khan of Kalat and has served as a provincial MPA and minister.

Sources said senators of various parties of Balochistan are interested for the slot of deputy chairperson of Senate.

Meanwhile, the Awami National Party (ANP) has decided to field Senator Dawood Achakzai for the position and will file his nomination papers today (Thursday). However, sources said that Achakzai is not being supported by the other parties as he belongs to a Pakhtun tribe from Balochistan.

Balochistan National Party Mengal’s (BNP-M) Dr Jamal Din Jamali has been rejected by the NP, PkMAP and other stakeholders due to his controversial election and his party leader Akhtar Mengal’s stance on Balochistan. However sources said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and PPP Co-chairman Asif Zardari were interested in giving the position to Mengal’s candidate in a bid to woo him.

Sources said that National Party’s Hasil Bizenjo had refused to run for the post of deputy chairperson, saying since he heads the party, he is unwilling to take up the position of deputy chairman in the Senate.

PkMAP already have their governor in Balochistan, who is also a key ally in the federal government.

Sources said that the JUI-F was interested in making the party’s General Secretary Ghafoor Haidri deputy chairman but was not supported by other groups, as the JUI-F already has two positions in the federal cabinet: head of Kashmir Committee and chair of Council of Islamic Ideology.

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