ISLAMABAD - Top leadership of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is shying away from taking decision about resigning en masse from national and provincial assemblies seats to press its demands because of fear of losing crucial stake in the Senate election due in March 2015.
Background discussions and interviews with various parliamentarians revealed that PTI leadership is not inclined to exercise this potential option because of its bigger political stake in the upcoming Senate election in which it could gain significant foothold in the 104 members upper house.
Well-placed sources informed The Nation on Saturday that PTI’s powerful core committee has been shying away from exercising the option of en bloc resignation to pressurise the government to accept its demands for audit of votes polled in May 11, 2013 elections.
On the other hand, when approached, PTI Central Information Secretary Dr Shireen Mazari said, “Our core committee has already resolved that resignations of legislators was an option that PTI may exercise.” She also rejected the impression that PTI had ever discussed the upcoming Senate election.
When her attention was drawn towards the huge political loss PTI might make by sacrificing the Senate election, she remarked, “Let’s see what happens.”
However some MPs from PTI’s rival political parties believed that Imran Khan would never exercise this option and was using the jargon of resignation just as a political bluff, adding that PTI would continue with so-called Azadi March to keep its pressure on PML-N government for better future bargaining.
“They will never resign from the assemblies,” said a senior PML-N leader requesting not to be named, warning that PTI would lose its political position in KP in the next general elections for its undue pressure on the Punjab government.
Elections are held every three years for one-half of the Senate seats and each senator has a term of six years. In the given situation, sources said that PTI might secure a good number of seats in the upcoming Senate elections, as a number of parliamentary parties in the Senate would be losing their seats.
A cursory look at the party position in the Senate suggests that the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) will emerge as a major winner in the Senate after March 2015, as Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) will lose its current control over the house upon retiring of its 21 senators including chairman and deputy chairman.
The PPP enjoys a majority in 104-member upper house of the parliament with 39 senators, of which 21 will be retiring in March 2015, hence paving the way for the PML-N to grab the maximum number of the vacated seats in the upcoming Senate elections given its strength in the country’s Punjab Assembly and the upper house of parliament.
The ruling PML-N, which currently holds 16 seats in Senate with eight due to retire in March 2015, will be able to significantly improve its strength after March 2015 elections and will be in the position to send the PPP-P chairman and deputy chairman to the opposition benches. The PML-N allied parties including Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) and National Party will also get their share in the forthcoming elections.
As many as seven senators of the PML-N are going to retire from Punjab and one from Balochistan but the party will regain the same with some additional seats due to its majority in both the provincial assemblies, besides clinching more from the federal capital and KP provincial assemblies.
The PML-N’s prominent retiring senator in March 2015 include Raja Zafar-ul-Haq, Pervaiz Rashid, Mushahidullah Khan, Syed Zafar Ali Shah and Begum Najma Hameed. The PPP’s eight senators would retire from Sindh, five from KP, three each from Punjab and Balochistan and two from the federal capital; prominent among these include the sitting chairman Senate Syed Nayyar Hussain Bokhari, Deputy Chairman Sabir Ali Baloch, Rehman Malik, Farooq Hamid Naek, Moula Bakhsh Chandio, Jahangir Badar, Saleem Mandviwalla, Waqar Ahmed Khan and Sughra Imam.
The PML-Q has five senators with one, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, retiring and ANP with 12 senators would have five retiring in 2015; however poor performance in the May 11 general elections of these two parties would impact on their remaining presence in the upper house in March 2018 wherein the outcome of the next general elections may change their strength. Both the parties have little chance to re-elect their retiring senators in the forthcoming election.
Although the PML-N will emerge as majority seat winning party in March 2015 elections yet it will not be in a position to form a simple majority in the house.