QUETTA: As political parties having representation in the Senate started approaching the senators-elect from Balochistan to seek their support for the two top slots of the upper house, a group of six independent candidates have demanded the chairmanship of the Senate from their province.
Accompanied by the six independent senators-elect, Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo told a press conference on Sunday that their victory was the result of a well thought-out strategy.
He rejected the allegation of horse-trading, citing that if the group of like-minded was involved in haggling or paying money for votes, not a single senator of any other party would have been elected from the province.
The six independent candidates won the Senate election with the support of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz dissidents who had revolted against the ruling party’s central leadership in January this year.
Mr Bizenjo also said that the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) had deliberately managed to disqualify their minister Manzoor Kakar. However, he added, “We have no difference with any party and our doors are open for dialogue.”
The no-confidence motion moved in the Balochistan Assembly against the former chief minister had been described as a conspiracy against the democracy aimed at delaying the Senate elections, Mr Bizenjo recalled. But the successful holding of the polls proved that rhetoric baseless, as political process was continuing in the country, he added.
All the six senators — Mir Sadiq Sanjrani, Ahmed Khan Khilji, Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar, Khuda Babar, Nasibullah Bazai and Sana Jamali who is daughter of a former chief minister and Speaker of Balochistan Assembly Mir Jan Mohammad Khan Jamali — were present at CM House during the press conference.
Mr Sanjrani said the group of independent senators would meet all political parties and demanded that the top slot of the Senate be given to Balochistan this time. “We want chairmanship of the Senate for Balochistan this time,” he said.
Mr Kakar, the adviser to the chief minister, said former secretary general of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Jahangir Khan Tareen had contacted him and congratulated all the senators-elect from the province.
He quoted Mr Tareen as saying that a delegation of the PTI would soon visit Balochistan to meet the group of independent senators.
Earlier, Pakistan Peoples Party congratulated the independent candidates on their victory. Former deputy speaker of the National Assembly Faisal Karim Kundi along with a close aide to party’s co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, Dr Abdul Qayoom Soomro, dashed to Quetta on Saturday evening shortly after the polling ended to have meetings with the senators-elect and Chief Minister Bizenjo.
The representatives of the PPP, which has won the second highest number of Senate seats in a surprise election performance, congratulated senators-elect Mir Sanjrani, Ms Jamali, Mr Khilji, Mr Kakar, Mr Babar and Mr Bazai on their success on behalf of party’s co-chairperson.
Dr Somroo and Mr Kundi also had a detailed meeting with the Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo.
Balochistan PPP President Ali Madad Jattak also attended the meetings.
In both the meetings, the sources said, candidates for the next Senate chairman came under discussion. The PPP leaders sought support of the senators-elect for their party candidate for the Senate chairman’s slot. Sources in the chief minister’s close circle said the meeting with the PPP leaders remained “positive and meaningful”. However, both sides agreed on further negotiation in this connection, they said.
Mr Kakar, adviser to the Balochistan chief minister, confirmed that the two parties contacted the independent senators and said: “We are just receiving the messages of congratulation.” He said such contacts should not be considered in view of supporting or joining any political party. “We have not taken any decision to support any party so far in this regard,” Mr Kakar told Dawn, adding that the independent senators would raise voice in Senate for the rights of Balochistan and its people.
The group of independent senators, however, said Pakistan Muslim League-N had not contacted them so far. “No leader of the PML-N has approached them so far,” said a senior leader of dissident group.