ISLAMABAD: With the election of the Senate chairman and deputy chairman due tomorrow, several important meetings are under way while others are planned for later today to finalise candidates for the top slots of the Upper House of Parliament.
Early today, recently-elected chief minister of Balochistan, Abdul Quddus Bizenjo, held a meeting with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan at his Bani Gala residence along with independent senators from the province.
Bizenjo enjoys the support of both the PTI and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) to bring forth a joint candidate for the slots with help of the newly-elected independent senators from Balochistan.
Bizenjo discussed with the PTI chief the names of the chairman and deputy chairman of the Senate.
According to media, the PTI chief reiterated in the meeting that the Senate chairman should be from Balochistan and the deputy chairman from the tribal areas so the sense of isolation of these regions are addressed.
The Balochistan chief minister thanked Imran for his support and added that the PTI chief should make efforts to reach out to other parties to support senators from the neglected regions of the country.
Nawaz to chair PML-N meeting today
Similarly, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) will hold a final meeting today, under the chair of party supremo and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, to decide on their candidates.
That in case the PPP doesn’t propose the name of the last Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani, the PML-N will bring forth its own candidate.
Earlier, Nawaz had proposed that the party would support Rabbani’s re-election as Senate chairman but the PPP dismissed the move.
After a meeting of the PML-N and its allies on Saturday, National Party (NP) leader Hasil Bizenjo had said that apart from his party, the PML-N had the support of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP).
The NP leader added that there had been no discussions in the meeting for appointing the chairman from Balochistan. “This is not an issue of Balochistan, rather an issue for the allied parties,” he had said.
Moreover, the PPP will also hold consultations today to finalise their nominees for the Senate posts.
The PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will consul party leaders to finalise their candidates.
Senate session on Monday
President Mamnoon Hussain has summoned a session of the Senate on March 12, in which newly-elected senators will be sworn in at 10am.
Nomination papers for Senate chairman and deputy chairman will then be submitted in the Senate Secretariat at noon.
The nomination papers will be reviewed at 2pm after which another session will be summoned at 4pm the same day, when the chairman and deputy chairman will be elected.
Following the election, the Senate chairman will take oath, and will then swear in his deputy.
After the oath-taking, the session will be adjourned until further notice.
The PML-N and independents backed by the party have 33 members in the Senate following the March 3 election.
If you add the party’s allies — five senators of the PkMAP, five of NP, four of JUI-F and one from PML-Functional — then the count goes up to 48.
The PML-N and its allies claim that they are ahead in the numbers game, and are certain of support from five senators of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), two of eight from FATA and one each from the Awami National Party and Balochistan National Party (Mengal).
If the PML-N indeed gets support from these nine senators, then the party will have a total of 57 members. A total of 53 votes are needed to win the posts.