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March 4, 2015

The Rs5 billion questions

National

March 4, 2015

ISLAMABAD: The Rs5 billion question is: Who will be the next chairman of the Senate of Pakistan? Of the 183 million Pakistanis, there’s only one who has the right answer -- and he goes by the initials AAZ.
There are at least four subsidiary questions worth at least a billion rupees each. Question 1: Why has the PPP fielded four senatorial candidates from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa when it only has half a dozen MPAs? Question 2: Why has the ANP fielded four senatorial candidates from KP when it only has five MPAs? Question 3: Why has the PML-N fielded six senatorial candidates from Balochistan when it only has 22 MPAs? Question 4: Who is going to vote for Nadeem Afzal Chan?
It looks like Fata, KP and Balochistan are the places where billions are going to change hands in the next 36 hours or so. In KP, a senator requires at least 17 MPAs so if the PPP wants to win a couple of Senate seats from KP then it would need to buy, steal or co-opt at least 28 KP MPAs. And that in itself sounds like a billion rupee proposition. Similarly, if the ANP wants to get just a single Senate seat from KP the party or its nominee would have to cough out half a billion.
In Balochistan, a senator requires at least nine MPAs so if the PML-N wants to win half a dozen Senate seats from Balochistan then it or the party’s nominees would need to buy, steal or co-opt some three dozen MPAs. And that in itself sounds like a billion rupee proposition.
Who is going to vote for Nadeem Afzal Chan? In Punjab, former MNA Nadeem Afzal Chan will be the joint PPP and PML-Q candidate. In Punjab, a senator requires at least 53 MPAs so if Chan wants to win he is going to need to buy, steal or co-opt some three dozen MPAs. And that in itself sounds like a billion rupee proposition.
The central parliamentary board of the JI has nominated the party chief Sirajul Haq for the Senate election from KP. Interestingly, a senator requires at least 17 MPAs and the JI only has eight MPAs. Theoretically, if

the JI wants Sirajul Haq to win, the party would need to buy, steal or co-opt at least nine KP MPAs. The potential price tag could be as high as Rs300 million but let us hope that the PTI MPAs bail Sirajul Haq out of this multi billion-rupee Senate circus.
In Balochistan, there is this very intriguing case of Kulsoom Parveen. Last time around, she won a Senate seat as an independent and then joined BNP-A. Last time around, when Senate seats from Balochistan were less expensive, the price tag for an independent senatorial candidate hovered around Rs80 million. This time around, Kulsoom Parveen, while being a BNP-A senator, has managed a ticket from the PML-N. This time around, the potential price tag is going to be at least 300 percent higher.
Finally, a time has come when “it’s no longer a question of staying healthy. It’s a question of finding a sickness you like.”

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