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Pakistan

Web Desk
March 5, 2018
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Race for Chairman Senate slot in full swing

ISLAMABAD: Race for the top slot of Chairman Senate is in full swing for which the independent candidates have assumed significance as no major party has enough numbers to do it on its own without their help.

A newly elected senator from Fata, Mirza Mohammad Afridi, today (Monday) met with PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and announced to join the party.

Although, PML-N has now 34 senators, 19 short of the required number, there will be a lot of jockeying to clinch the office of the chairman.

There is a wide gap of 14 votes between the number one, the PML-N, and the runner-up, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). Without taking into account, the alignment of the independents in the chairman’s election, the PML-N has a solid chunk of 34 seats. On the other hand, the PPP has a concrete block of 20 MPs.

Thus, the PML-N is short of 19 votes to hit the magic figure of 53, the simple majority, in the 104-member chamber to elect its nominee as the chairman.

In contrast, the PPP requires another 33 MPs to clinch the berth for the third consecutive three-year term. Obviously, it will be an uphill task to rally around this huge tally.

It is beyond doubt that the National Party (NP) of Hasil Bizenjo that has five senators and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) of Mehmood Achakzai with its five MPs will stand behind the PML-N, thus bringing its total number to 44 senators.

In the just concluded Senate election, the Jamaat-e-Islami and Awami National Party (ANP) had made alliance with the PML-N in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). The two parties have a total of three senators. If they back the PML-N, its number will go up to 47.

The Jamiat Ulema-e- Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) of Maulana Fazlur Rehman has four senators. Bearing in mind its alliance with deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for the past five years, it is likely to go with the PML-N. This will take the PML-N’s figure to 51.

Of the seven Fata senators (excluding Shamim Afridi), a majority already supports the PML-N, which is expected to back it. Consequently, the PML-N apparently lands in a safe zone.

As the JUI-F mostly remains a passenger of two boats at the same time, the PML-N may be able to make up the loss caused by Fazlur Rehman’s change of mind from other Fata or other smaller parliamentary parties.

After the chaotic results the Mutahidda Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) received, it still has five senators. It faced a loss of two seats from Sindh because of PPP’s machinations.

Therefore, it is bitter about the PPP and has accused it of horse-trading. In view of this latest spar, it will not be less than a monumental development if the MQM-P decided to vote for the PPP’s choice in the election of the Senate chief.

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