ISLAMABAD - As half of senators would retire in March next year, key leaders of PTI have been advising the top leadership to withdraw resignations from National Assembly in order to ensure party’s maiden entry to the Senate.
After the government resumed talks with Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI), party insiders said there was maximum chance that its lawmakers in National Assembly would withdraw their resignations.
“PTI has a golden opportunity to make it to the upper house cashing in on its KPK government, its MNAs in the lower house and sizeable number in provincial assemblies of Punjab and Sindh,” PTI MNA from Nowshera, Siraj Khan, told The Nation on Wednesday.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday received printed ballot papers as part of preparation for the Senate election. As many as 52 senators would retire in March 2015 including chairman and deputy chairman of the upper house. Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the majority party in Senate, would lose 21 members, followed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, 9 and Awami National Party, 6 members.
Some federal ministers including Information Minister Senator Pervez Rashid, Textile Minister Abbas Khan Afridi and Leader of the House in Senate Raja Zafarul Haq would also complete their six years tenure by March next year.
PPP key outgoing figures include Senator Rehman Malik, Farooq H Naek, Jahangir Badr. ANP’s information secretary Zahid Khan, Afrasiab Khattak and Haji Adeel are among those who would retire.
Sources in PTI said that the party was eying seats in Senate for which some key leaders including Shah Mehmood Qureshi had positively responded to the government’s offer of putting an end to the prevailing stalemate.
With KPK government in hand and presence of dozens of lawmakers in Sindh and Punjab assemblies, the PTI can clinch around eight seats in the upper house.
 “PTI’s lawmakers need to return to National Assembly and it will happen,” said a PTI lawmaker, who wished not to be named.
He said KPK Chief Minister Pervez Khattak was not in favour of dissolving the provincial assembly arguing it should work during Senate election. A source said Chief of Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam (JUI-F) tried repeatedly to get nod of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in getting rid of PTI government in KPK in order to get maximum benefit for election of the upper house.
JUI-F’s Senator Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, Senator Ghulam Ali and Haman Daas will be completing their tenures in March 2015. PPP which currently enjoys majority in the upper house is likely to be replaced with the ruling PML-N while ANP which lacks sizeable representation in both federal and KPK governments would suffer the most in elections.
According to political observers, PTI that has not enjoyed representation in Senate so far had a good opportunity to utilise its mandate and send senators to the upper house for the first time. Well-placed sources in PTI said that some heavyweight party office-bearers had already expressed their wish to get Senate tickets. “Some well known PTI figures who suffered defeat in general elections are eying Senate seats. They are those who advocate peace with the federal government,” a PTI lawmaker said.