- PML-N, JI back Rabbani while PTI puts weight behind Balochistan CM’s panel
ISLAMABAD: As the election for Senate chairmanship is drawing near, the ruling and opposition parties have stepped up jockeying to clinch the top slots of the Upper House of the Parliament with key consultative meetings held Saturday.
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif chaired a consultative meeting of the heads of the PML-N’s political allies to exchange views on the nominees for the offices of Senate chairman and deputy chairman.
The participants debated various names for the top slots of the Senate.
Meanwhile, speaking to media after the meeting, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Mushahid Ullah Khan said the ruling party has achieved majority votes to clinch the top positions of the chairman and deputy chairman of the Senate.
He claimed the party was in a position to bring its chairman and deputy chairman with help of its allies. The PML-N leader said the names of the nominees for the hot seats of the Senate would be unveiled on Sunday.
According to details, the ruling party and its allies agreed to field Raza Rabbani for Senate chairman slot. It was the second meeting of ruling party within a week over nominations for Senate deputy and chairman seats.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi also expressed willingness of his party PML-N to elect a consensus candidate for the Senate top slots and said that his party is willing to reelect outgoing chairman Mian Raza Rabbani in this regard.
Following the meeting, Balochistan National Party (NP) leader Hasil Bizenjo said his party would support the candidates fielded by the ruling party.
Similar sentiments were expressed by Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leader Dr Farooq Sattar.
Besides political allies like Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F), Sindh’s PML-F, Balochistan National Party (NP) and Pashtunkhwa Mili Awami Party (PkMAP), the ruling party also intends to approach the independent candidates for their support.
The groups of independent senators-elect from Balochistan and Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) are believed to play a crucial role in the upcoming election for the offices of Senate chairman and deputy chairman.
The mainstream political parties are eying the independent candidates to get their favourite candidate elected as Senate chairman in the poll scheduled on March 12.
On the other hand, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan said that his party will support the panel selected by Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo for the coveted position of Senate chairman.
Addressing a joint press conference with Bizenjo, Imran said that it would be a great achievement if for the first time in the country’s history, the chairman of Senate will be elected from Balochistan.
“The people of Balochistan have been aware of their deprivations since some time now,” the PTI chief said, and added, “It would be a great feat if the incoming Senate chairman is from Balochistan.”
Bizenjo, in his address, thanked the PTI chairman for supporting his panel and said that PTI’s initiative to take the first step to support a candidate from Balochistan was appreciable.
Bizenjo told attendants that names of Anwarul Haq and Sadiq Sanjrani have been proposed for the candidacy of aforementioned posts. He stated that a name of candidate would be finalised soon and PTI would put their weight behind Balochistan panel.
“Imran Khan and PTI get the first credit for lending their support,” he said, adding that he also values the PPP for appreciating the prospect of a Senate chairman from Balochistan.
On Friday, PTI Chairman Imran Khan put his party’s weight behind Balochistan and FATA candidates for election on the seats of Senate chairman and deputy chairman.
“We will strive to make Senate chairman from Balochistan, while deputy chairman should be from FATA region to recognise their sacrifices in the war on terror,” he said while talking to media in Islamabad regarding election on the top seats of the Senate.
However, he said the PTI would not vote for the PPP and PML-N candidates.
The opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) is also carrying out consultative sessions over the appointment for the posts.
However, a party meeting, also attended by Raza Rabbani, held Saturday at the Zardari House in Lahore failed to decide on a name for the top slots. The matter has been postponed until Sunday, sources said.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto has asked senior party leaders, including Khursheed Shah, for assistance on the matter. There might be three or more candidates for the chairman slot, party sources said.
Outgoing chairman Raza Rabbani, favoured by Nawaz but not Asif Ali Zardari to remain in the post, has also received strong support from JI and JUI-F, with both parties campaigning for his appointment.
It is being reported that Salim Mandviwala will be the contender for the chairmanship. Buoyant Zardari had affirmed the fact, saying Inshallah, and adding that his party has enough strength to get him elected.
In another meeting, Zardari and Bilawal courted the independents from Federal Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) who called on them to discuss the matters pertaining to the election of the Senate chairman and deputy chairman.
The Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), being undecided for at least a week, has finally come up with the name which it will be supporting. The JI chief, Sirajul Haq, said that party will support Raza Rabbani for the post of the chairmanship and urged all political parties to develop a consensus in this regard.
In a statement issued on Friday, he said that the re-election of Raza Rabbani as the chairman would bring to an end the present political crisis and state of uncertainty.
Siraj said that the differences with Raza Rabbani’s party— the PPP — apart, the personal performance and the capability of Rabbani must be duly acknowledged.
Balochistan National Party (BNP) leader Jahanzeb Jamaldeeni said that his party will support the PPP if it fields Raza Rabbani for the chairmanship, if not, then the party will be free to support whoever it pleases.
Elections for the seats of the chairman and deputy chairman will be held on March 12, when the senators-elect will also take their oaths.