- PML-N in better position to clinch chairman, deputy chairman seats
- PPP may lose the numbers game as PTI is a major stumbling block
ISLAMABAD: With the announcement of official results of Senate elections by Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMP-N) and Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP), the two major political parties have started contacts with minor political parties to clinch the prized slot of the Senate chairman.
As neither the PML-N nor the PPP is in a position to grab the top slot in the Senate on its own, both parties have fair chances of winning the top slot irrespective of the basic number-game.
Meanwhile, the third largest party in the upper house, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)—having 12 senators— as well as PPP have approached Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Qudus Bizenjo and newly elected independent senators from the province to win their support.
However, if a comparison is to be drawn between the two parties, the PML-N is in a better position to seize the top two slots of the Senate – the chairman and deputy chairman.
Sources privy to the information in both political parties informed Pakistan Today that direct contacts were established on Saturday evening while back-channel contacts were also being made between the PPP and the PML-N.
The sources said that Nawaz Sharif had sent a covert message to PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari to seek his cooperation for the Senate polls as he wanted that both parties should field joint candidates for the top Senate slots.
“Though we have got numbers to win the Senate elections, we have still asked for cooperation from the PPP to strengthen the political process. We also need PPP’s support for some key legislation to help facilitate the process of transition of power,” a senior PML-N leader told this scribe.
The source said that the Senate elections were not a major challenge to the ruling party; in fact, it needs PPP’s support for some key laws to be enacted in the near future.
Though the PML-N leader did not elaborate the nature of legislation, but it is being reported by certain quarters that the PML-N wants to amend the Constitution to facilitate the process of purge in the judiciary by decreasing the age limit of the senior judges.
Furthermore, in the recent past, the prime minister had also hinted at “some kind of legislation” to curb the powers of judiciary.
Meanwhile, on late Sunday night, a PPP delegation, comprising Dr Qayyum Soomro and Faisal Karim Kundi, flew in to Quetta from Peshawar on a special plane and met CM Bizenjo, seeking the support of six newly elected independent senators from Balochistan.
The PTI is also trying to be a part of the power game despite its small number compared to the PPP and PML-N. In order to woo the Balochistan dissident lawmakers, PTI’s Jehangir Tareen telephoned freshly elected Anwarul Haq Kakar and asked for his support in the matter.
The PPP and PTI have been struggling to gain the support of the newly elected six independent senators from Balochistan as both the parties want to field a strong candidate for the chairmanship of the upper house.
However, the senators from Balochistan declined to join any political party. “Our doors are open to all, but we are not going to join any political party”, Kakar told media on Sunday evening.
Instead, the independent senators demanded mainstream political parties give the slot of chairman Senate to Balochistan.
“This time, the chairman Senate should be from Balochistan to remove the sense of deprivation of our people”, Sadiq Sanjrani, another independent senator said.
Meanwhile, CM Bizenjo has said that the senators from his province want the new chairman to be from their this time. “We would talk to senators from other provinces in this regard,” he said and added that meeting with the political delegations shouldn’t be taken as political contacts rather these were social contacts.
The PML-N suffered a major political blow from Balochistan during Senate elections. Despite having 21 legislators in the Balochistan Assembly, the former ruling party in the province failed to bag a single seat.
In the house of 104, the PML-N has support of 33 members, including the 15 recently elected as independents, and is the top party while the PPP has 20 members. Any party would require support of at least 53 members to win the top Senate slot.
Going by the incumbent power equation, the PML-N would have the support of its allied parties – Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) and National Party who have five senators each.
Add four more members of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), five members of Mutahidda Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and one member of the PML-Functional, the tally of 53 would be complete. But, will the MQM-P, JUI-F and PML-F support the PML-N nominee? Only time will tell as they haven’t issued any statement in PML-N’s support as of yet
Being allies of the PPP and PML-N, depending on circumstances, the JUI-F and the MQM-P’s future action is unpredictable.
On the other hand, the PPP has only 20 seats but it enjoys support from its traditional allied parties, like Awami National Party (ANP) with one seat, and an independent senator Yousuf Badini. With their support, PPP’s number would reach 22.
If the PPP chief Asif Zardari is able to win support of the six Senators elected from Balochistan, the number would touch 28. It would be difficult for the twelve members of the PTI to vote for the PPP’s nominee due to acrimony between the leaders of the two parties who are vying for maximum strength in the next general elections.
Moreover, one member of Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) would also be undecided as the party opposes both the major political outfits and would prefer to stay on opposition benches like the PTI. Two members of Jama’at-e-Islami (JI) would also prefer to remain on the opposition benches, making it further difficult for the PPP to get the desired numbers’ tally.