JUI-F decides to support Nawaz at this trying time
JI remains undecided on who to support
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Quaid Nawaz Sharif is playing his cards quite smartly, as he has decided to nominate Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, the president of the National Party, for the coveted slot of the Senate chairman, it has been learnt reliably.
Sources privy to the development told Pakistan Today that the Nawaz Sharif decided to nominate Bizenjo for the chairmanship after the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari turned down a proposal floated by him to name outgoing Senate chairman Raza Rabbani as a joint candidate for the top slot.
However, whom the slot of deputy chairman will go to remains undecided. The sources confided that the nomination for the slot of the deputy chairman could not be made; however, a decision in this regard will be taken after taking all the allies into confidence.
Expressing satisfaction over the progress to woo other parties, the sources claimed that the PML-N will soon be in a position to appoint its handpicked chairman for the upper house.
Nawaz Sharif and the heads of the allied parties, including Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) chief Fazlur Rehman, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) head Mahmood Khan Achakzai and National Party (NP) President Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo are in Islamabad for past two days in a bid to garner the required support for the top slots.
The Sources revealed that the PML-N has succeeded in wooing its allied parties, including Maulana Fazlur Rehman-led JUI-F, PkMAP, NP, and two senators from Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
Moreover, PML-N’s Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Saad Rafique and Mushahidullah Khan are in close contact with Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM-P) and Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) in order to get their support as well.
The PML-N enjoys the support of 48 senators, as, besides its 33 senators, JUI-F (4), PkMAP (4), National Party (5) and two from FATA decided in principle to standby the PML-N in its quest for the Senate chairmanship.
JUI-F TO SUPPORT NAWAZ:
Meanwhile, the sources said that the JUI-F in its central executive party meeting held on Thursday categorically decided to standby ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his party in this trying time, and decided to support Nawaz’s candidate, Hasil Khan Bizenjo, for the top slot.
“It will be quite embarrassing for the JUI-F to ditch the PML-N at this juncture as it already has two federal ministers,” the sources informed Pakistan Today.
However, a senior party leader said that the party took the decision due to PPP chief Asif Zardari’s reaction when Fazl met him on Wednesday and conveyed Nawaz Sharif’s proposal to field the out-going Senate chairman, Raza Rabbani, as a joint candidate for the slot.
“The party in its meeting expressed great resentment the way Asif Ali Zardari reacted; hence a decision was taken not to support the PPP-backed candidate for the slot at any cost,” the leader claimed.
When Pakistan Today contacted a JUI-F senator, Hafiz Hamdullah, for confirmation, he said that he could not disclose the decisions taken in the meeting at this point. However, the JUI-F chief would hold a press conference in the coming few days to make things clear, he added and refused to make any further comments.
JAMAAT-E-ISLAMI FACES CATCH-22:
Sirajul Haq-led JI, having two senators in the house, remains undecided on whom to support. Talking to Pakistan Today, JI Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) chief Professor Ibrahim Khan said that the JI will only extend its support to any party which will accept its terms and conditions; apparently, no one has approached the JI hitherto.
When asked whether the PPP or the PML-N approached the party to seek its support, the JI provincial expressed ignorance, while reiterating the party still needs to take a decision in this regard.
The election for chairman and deputy chairman is scheduled for March 12, besides the oath-taking ceremony for the senators-elect.
Earlier in the day, the former premier, Nawaz, said that his party would nominate its own member for the Senate top position.
Talking to the media after appearing before the accountability court hearing the Avenfield properties reference against him and his family, Nawaz said that the PML-N and its allies had agreed on Raza Rabbani’s candidature for Senate chairmanship. But after Zardari’s refusal, the PML-N will find someone like that from our own ranks, he said.
Criticising the anti-graft trial launched against him on the orders of the Supreme Court, Nawaz said that the ongoing cases against him are “part of a grand design”.
“Despite the passage of six months since the filing of the corruption references, the charges are yet to be proven,” he said.
“What charge is there against me,” questioned Nawaz, adding that had there been any corruption evidence it would have been proved in two months but “here they’ve gotten an extension now”.
Referring to Avenfield supplementary reference witness Robert Radley, a forensic expert used by the Panama case joint investigation team (JIT) to build its case against the deposed PM, Nawaz said “Radley’s statement [regarding the Calibri font] was in our favour. This shows that lies have no basis.”
After PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari turned down a proposal floated by Nawaz Sharif to name outgoing Senate chairman Raza Rabbani as a joint candidate for the top slot, the governing party has increased its efforts to contact possible allies for the slots of chairman and deputy chairman of the Upper House of Parliament.
Nawaz Sharif is holding meetings with the leaders from Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), and other allies to decide the candidates for the two positions. Moreover, he held a separate meeting with JUI-F chief Fazalur-Rehman.
A newly-elected independent Senator from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Mirza Mohammad Afridi, had announced to join the PML-N after meeting Nawaz.