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February 15, 2018

Alliance against PPP in Senate polls inevitable: PSP


February 15, 2018

With the strength of 95 MPAs, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is set to secure at least seven seats from Sindh in the upcoming Senate elections, while the opposition parties in the province negotiate to claim the remaining five.

The first such dialogue took place between the Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Wednesday, and they have agreed to form coordination committees on the matter. It is likely that similar meetings between other opposition parties would be convened shortly.

A PTI delegation, including its deputy general secretary, Imran Ismail, Sindh senior executive vice-president, Haleem Adil Shaikh, and Senate candidate Najeeb Haroon, called on PSP leaders at their headquarters, the Pakistan House.

During the meeting the PSP was represented by its president, Anis Kaimkhani, general secretary, Raza Haroon, and senior vice-chairman, Anis Advocate, among others. The upper house polls are scheduled to be conducted on March 3. Sindh has a total of 12 seats: seven general, two each of women and technocrats, and one of minorities. Twenty-one votes are required for winning a general seat, 57 each for women and technocrats, and 84 for minorities.

The PPP has 94 MPAs, the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional nine, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz seven, the PTI four, the National Peoples Party one and then there is an independent lawmaker.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s (MQM-P) strength has reduced from 50 to 37, thanks to the nine members who left the party, including seven who jumped ship to the PSP and one who joined the PPP. Four others are reportedly out of the country.

The PSP’s vice-chairman, Waseem Aftab, told The News that an alliance of opposition parties was inevitable to prevent the hegemony of the PPP on Sindh’s seats in the Senate and to thwart the attempts at horse-trading.

“Alone, none of us can gain anything and only the MQM gets a seat,” he remarked, reflecting on how the opposition parties together were 59-strong, enough to claim two general seats and one each of women and technocrats. He said the PSP was willing to talk to all political parties, including the MQM-P.

Seconding the idea, PTI Karachi President Firdous Shamim Naqvi said his party hoped other opposition parties would think carefully about the situation. “This doesn’t mean that the PTI forms an alliance with someone.”

He believes the PTI cannot be with any of the MQM offshoots, including the PSP, because he considered some of them “criminals”. “Our differences are still there. For now we are planning to give a tough time to the PPP.”

MQM-P Bahadurabad group leader Aminul Haque said his faction welcomed “Muttahida Opposition Alliance” against the PPP in the Senate and was open to such talks, though formal meetings were yet to take place.

At least 12 MPAs stand with the Amir Khan-led MQM-P Bahadurabad faction, while around 25 are with the Farooq Sattar-led PIB group. The election commission has approved only the Khan faction’s nominations, turning down those submitted by the Sattar group. Haque hoped the two MQM-P factions would sort out their matters soon.

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