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March 10,2018

Senate chairmanship: Wheeling, dealing for consensus candidate

M Saleh Zaafar & Mumtaz Alvi

ISLAMABAD: Chief of Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI-F) Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Friday said that efforts were underway to bring the chairman Senate unanimously in consultation with the main political parties i.e. Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

Talking to media persons outside the Parliament House here on Friday, he said that PTI chief Imran Khan was an embodiment of contradiction, adding that he was fooling the masses on the election of Senate chairman. He said that Imran Khan also accepted the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari as his leader. Maulana Fazlur Rehman also held a meeting with PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif at the Chamba House, Lahore. The meeting was also attended by Saad Rafique and Pervaiz Rashid

Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan declared in categorical terms that his party senators would neither vote for the PML-N nor PPP during the election of chairman and deputy chairman of the Senate. He asserted that his 22-year struggle against corruption would not allow him to shake hands with Zardari and the likes. “PTI will never support the PPP and PML-N under any circumstances”, PTI chairman PTI remarked.

Speaking at a news conference here after chairing PTI senior leadership meeting, Imran reiterated support to the candidate from Balochistan for Senate chairman and deputy chairman from Fata.

He said the Fata people have rendered tremendous sacrifices and that Balochistan and Fata have been feeling deprived for some years, therefore, the Senate chairman should be from Balochistan while deputy chairman be elected from Fata so that their sacrifices be acknowledged.

By giving Fata and Balochistan more representation, he said, “We can address the sensestrengthen the federation. The Senate is representative body of federation,” said Imran.

Imran noted that PTI’s core committee unanimously decided in favour of giving chairmanship of the Senate to Balochistan and deputy chairman must be elected from Fata.

“Our fight is not against an individual but dilemma of corruption that is eroding our political and social strata,” said Imran

Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Kuddus Bezenjo announced to meet PML-N leadership today (Saturday) for thrashing out the issue of chairman election. He met Zardari second time in two days on Friday while the members from Fata who had meeting with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Asif Zardari on Friday would have meeting with Quaid of the PML-N Nawaz Sharif today. The fate of the five members-elect with dual nationality previously and their matter is before the Supreme Court would have decisive impact on the outcome of the contest. With this the confusion regarding the contest for the slot of Senate chairman still persists when 48 hours are left for the election.

The sources confided to The News that the revolt on Thursday evening in the PTI forced Imran Khan to retrieve his decision to dispatch his members to the PPP through the Balochistan CM. The revolt had come across soon after his visit to the Balochistan House on Thursday evening for meeting with the chief minister. Imran Khan had to send KP Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattack to the Balochistan CM later for seeking clarification after midnight in the matter since he delivered the PTI members to Asif Zardari who subsequently referred the matter to his son Bilawal Zardari. The claim made by Asif Zardari’s deal-man Dr Soomro about support of 57 members of Senate also created stir. He leaked name of Salim Mandviwala as the PPP candidate. The sources hinted that the situation could be a bit clear by evening on Saturday but the backdoor activities would continue till the polling time.

Senate Secretary Malik Amjad Pervaiz will be returning officer for conducting the polls. The new members who are about 40 would have hospitality of the Senate secretariat from tomorrow (Sunday) and reception desk is being set up from today in the Parliament House. The sources reminded that the smaller groups which have one or two members in the House, Fata and independents of Balochistan will play important role in the election of chairman.

Federal Minster and Baloch nationalist leader Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo called them as “Askari Wing.” The PML-N has yet to make public its candidate for slots of chairman and deputy chairman but the PPP has hinted at its candidate. It would bargain for the office of the deputy chairman, the sources added.

The PTI is in catch-22 since its members aren’t prepared to side with the PPP and PML-N alike. It is understood that if the PTI is asked by its ‘close buddies,’ it would in the end vote for the PPP candidate against acquiring the deputy chairman slot. Meanwhile sources hinted that the PPP could rescind its position regarding Raza Rabbani and consider him for the candidature in view of weak position but it would be difficult for the PML-N to agree to the proposal now.

Nawaz Sharif will reach Islamabad today (Saturday) early in the day and will chair the meeting of the groups at 11 in Punjab House that have established contact with other parties. Later the meetings would continue in the day, the sources said.

Meanwhile, Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Qaddus Bizenjo said that he had not given direct authority to PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari for the Senate chairman election as he said that perhaps PTI Chairman Imran Khan mistook the statement given by him and other Balochistan senators-elect. He said that it was decided in the meeting with Asif Ali Zardari that a consensus candidate to be brought in for the Senate top slot. He said that Imran Khan had given them a mandate and final decision would be taken in consultation with Imran Khan.

Meanwhile, Shahzeb Khanzada in his programme, 'Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Key Saath' said that Imran Khan in a bid to impede Nawaz Sharif way to get PML-N candidate elected as Senate chairman had handed over PTI senators to Balochistan CM who had given the sole authority to Asif Ali Zardari for the purpose as this troika is being considered as indirect support to the PPP. However. Imran Khan had face stiff resistance on the decision from his own party and Imran Khan had withdrawn his earlier stance.


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