Counterpoise to PML-N
Raza Rabbani, elected unopposed as Chairman Senate, could claim to be the most qualified man for the job in the PPP. As an activist of the party he was jailed during the MRD movement. He was subsequently a prominent critic of Musharraf’s policies as leader of the opposition in the Senate. Despite being a party loyalist he was one of the few PPP parliamentarians who could differ with the all-powerful party co-chairman. Rabbani resigned twice from the cabinet and then, as leader of the House in the Senate, over differences with party policies. He publicly opposed the 21st Amendment though he voted for it under protest.
The Senate Deputy Chairman was also elected unopposed as a result of a consensus among political parties. The elections showed that those on the sidelines of the system are also keen to play a prominent role in it. This was a positive development which needs to welcomed, particularly in the case of the nationalist parties. The BNM (Mengal) withdrew its candidate after the consensus while the BNP Senator, who was initially projected as the PML-N nominee, accepted the change in nomination gracefully while paying tributes to Rabbani. The PTI’s decision to contest the Senate polls was welcome, though it looked illogical after the party had rejected the National Assembly as the product of rigging. It was indefensible on the part of Imran Khan to refuse to vote for Rabbani after acknowledging that he enjoyed a good reputation. It was simply realpolitik when the PTI put up a candidate for the Deputy Chairman’s slot showing that it had no qualms when seeking votes from Senators elected by three provincial assemblies which Imran Khan had rejected as the outcome of rigging.
With Raza Rabbani as Chairman Senate, PPP’s Aitzaz Ahsan leader of opposition and the opposition dominating the upper house, the Senate would act as a counterpoise to the PML-N dominated National Assembly. The Parliament would thus be better able to regain the position visualised in the constitution.