ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader Nawaz Sharif on Thursday contacted Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) President and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and said that the victory of PDM candidates in the Senate elections is certain.
Talking from London, Nawaz told Fazl that the PDM has a numerical majority over the ruling coalition in the Senate and all PML-N senators will vote for the alliance’s joint candidate, Gillani, and Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, as PDM’s candidates for Senate chairman and his deputy respectively.
According to sources in the PML-N, Nawaz and Fazl also discussed a strategy for the long march due in the last week of March.
Sources said that the PML-N supremo assured the JUI-F chief that the PML-N will fully support the PDM candidates and the opposition alliance would be victorious is certain.
Polling for the election will be held on Friday in the Senate and the members of the upper house would elect the future chairman and deputy chairman of the upper house.
Gilani and Haideri are backed by PDM parties, including Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), PML-N, JUI-F, Awami National Party (ANP) and others.
While the ruling coalition is supporting the incumbent Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, is being supported by ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and others.
Moreover, the ruling coalition has named Mirza Afridi for the post of deputy chairman. Out of six senators who were from PML-N but were elected as independents, Mirza Afridi, who was elected as independent after Nawaz Sharif was disqualified, has formally parted ways from PML-N and become a candidate of the ruling coalition.
Another PML-N Senator who was elected as independent is also campaigning for Sanjrani and Mirza Afridi.
The opposition parties still have a numerical majority in the Senate, while the ruling coalition is trying its best to win the election by uniting independents.
According to the new updates, the opposition and the ruling coalition have almost equal numbers as Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) has decided to abstain from the polling being held on Friday for Senate chairman and his deputy.
Out of six senators who were from PML-N but were elected as independents, Mirza Afridi, who was elected as independent after Nawaz was disqualified, has formally parted ways from PML-N and become candidate of ruling coalition for the slot of deputy chairman Senate.
Another PML-N senator who was elected as independent, is also campaigning for Sanjrani and Afridi.
The ruling coalition has mustered support of around 48 members of the Senate but the sources in the ruling coalition claim that one ANP senator from Balochistan, who won due to support of the PTI and BAP, would also vote for Sanjrani. This may take the total tally of the ruling coalition to 49.
The PDM has the edge in numeric strength as compared to the ruling coalition as it has 52 members in the Senate. However, Senator Ishaq Dar will not be able to vote as he is in self-exile in London.
The source said that few PDM senators also had assured Sanjrani who would pull a surprise for Gillani on Friday.
With 19 new successful candidates, the PTI has become the largest political party in the Senate and its number has increased to 26. With Abdul Qadir, an independent member elected from Balochistan, joining the PTI, the number has increased to 27.
The number of senators of the BAP is 12. The number of independent members in the Senate was earlier eight out of which four have retired.
One independent senator, Shamim Afridi, has joined the PPP, bringing the total number of independent senators to three who are supporting the government coalition. Nasima Ihsan, another independent member from Balochistan, has yet to decide.
The number of senators from the MQM-P in the Senate is three. The PML-Q has one member in the Senate and so does the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA).
With the joining of an independent, the number of former senators of PPP has risen to 21. The number of PML-N Senators is now 18 while the JUI-F has five members.
The ANP has two new successful senators but one of its members has won with help of the government’s votes. The National Party (NP) has two seats while Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) and JI have one member each.