–PML-N leader says party has asked PPP to consider names of Yousaf Raza Gilani, Raza Rabbani and Farhatullah Babar for election
–Ahsan Iqbal says formal announcement of presidential candidate will be made on Sunday by three-member panel
–Opp alliance welcomes voting rights for overseas Pakistanis but warns govt against taking hasty decisions
ISLAMABAD: The joint opposition is likely to agree on a candidate nominated by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) for the presidential election scheduled to be held on September 4, sources privy to the developments confided to Pakistan Today on Saturday.
A senior leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that their party supremo Nawaz Sharif had directed Shehbaz Sharif and other senior leaders to endorse the candidate proposed by the PPP and other members of the joint opposition parties.
When asked to name the probable candidates from the PPP who are acceptable for all opposition parties, the PML-N leader said that the PPP leadership has been conveyed to consider the names of Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, Raza Rabbani and Farhatullah Babar.
It merits a mention here that during a recent meeting held to name a joint candidate for the election for prime minister, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif had suggested the name of Yousaf Raza Gilani for the slot of president which did not go down well with PPP Co-chairman Asif Zardari.
Speaking to reporters after the huddle of the opposition parties hosted by the PML-N in Murree, senior PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal said that the formal announcement of the opposition’s candidate for the election will be made on Sunday.
He said that the PPP leaders had sought time till Saturday night to take their party’s leadership into confidence over the decisions taken in the meeting.
According to Iqbal, a panel led by MMA [Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal] chief Fazlur Rehman will shortlist three names by Sunday after which opposition parties will pick the final name for a presidential candidate. The panel will have one member each from PML-N and PPP, besides one neutral member (Fazl).
The PML-N leader said that all opposition parties supported the overseas Pakistanis’ right to vote, however, they objected to the haste being demonstrated in this regard.
Recalling the failure of Result Transmission System (RTS) on election day, the opposition alliance cautioned against taking hasty decisions pertaining to voting rights for overseas Pakistanis.
Ahsan further urged the government to provide security to opposition leaders and take notice of the threatening calls being made to certain opposition leaders.
The alliance also considered staging a protest outside Parliament House regarding the alleged rigging in the July 25 general polls.
The meeting decided that all allied parties will play the role of a strong opposition henceforth, agreeing that they would partake in “Insaf Do (Serve Justice)” campaign.
The forum, however, delayed the agenda of Senate chairman’s replacement until the next meeting.
Speaking to reporters after Ahsan Iqbal, PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira said that Aitzaz Ahsan was still his party’s presidential candidate. However, PPP General Secretary Farhatullah Babar, while talking to a media outfit, said that Aitzaz Ahsan’s name for the president’s slot was not final.
The All Parties Conference (APC), dubbed as ‘Pakistan Alliance’, was chaired by Shehbaz Sharif. The alliance comprises PPP, MMA, Awami National Party (ANP), Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), National Party, Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) and Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP).
PkMAP leader Mehmood Khan Achakzai did not attend the meeting due to prior commitments but he has expressed support for whatever decision the APC reaches.
The PML-N sought to convince other parties to field a joint candidate instead of PPP’s Aitzaz Ahsan.
According to reports, Shehbaz Sharif discussed the presidential election with his elder brother during a meeting at Adiala jail on Thursday.
Earlier on Friday, former information minister and PML-N leader Pervez Rasheed had said that his party’s leadership would consider supporting PPP’s Aitzaz Ahsan for president if he apologises to convicted former prime minister (PM) and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif.
Rasheed had said that the PML-N may support Ahsan “if he visits Adiala jail and apologises to Nawaz Sharif for his remarks”.
The alliance of opposition parties had suffered a blow after PPP unilaterally announced to field Aitzaz Ahsan for the presidential elections. The PML-N had denied it would support Ahsan, citing lack of consultation over the nomination as the reason.
PPP’s failure to vote for PML-N President Shehbaz for the post of PM had also damaged relations between the two parties.
Earlier on Sunday, the PPP had nominated Ahsan as its presidential candidate.
The senior PPP leader was nominated for the president’s slot by PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto and PPP Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari.
On the other hand, PM Imran Khan nominated Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Arif Alvi for the same slot.
ECP ANNOUNCES SCHEDULE FOR PRESIDENTIAL POLL:
Meanwhile, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Saturday announced that nomination papers for presidential election should be filed by August 27 (Monday).
Candidates will have till 12 noon to submit their nomination papers with presiding officers in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta.
The papers will be scrutinised on Wednesday with the candidates having until Thursday to withdraw their nomination papers after which the final list will be made public.
According to reports, Hyderabad resident Ghayoor Muhammad has taken a form for the presidential election.
The ECP has announced the schedule for the presidential election which will be held on September 4.
Members of the National Assembly (MNAs) and Senate along with members of all the four provincial assemblies will cast their votes.