ISLAMABAD - In the face of tall claims by the Pakistan People’s Party to bring in their man as chairman Senate, ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz is silently working on smaller parties and independents in the Upper House to swing matters in their favour.

After having emerged as the single-largest party in the Senate with a tally of 33 senators, the PML-N seems more comfortable than any other political party to have their man elected as Senate chairman.

Sources in the party informed The Nation that party’s Quaid Nawaz Sharif was himself taking pain and contacting heads of coalition partners to attain the figure of 53, required to win the top slots in the Upper House.

On the direction of Nawaz Sharif, the party leaders were already out to engage the smaller parties in the Upper House as well as independents but all this was going on silently.

The PML-N federal minister from Balochistan and former Lt-Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch, Senator Sardar Yaqoob Khan Nasir and members of coalition partners from the National Party and the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami party were trying to woo the support of six independent senators elected from the province.

Sources in the party informed The Nation that Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai extended full support to the PML-N candidate for chairman Senate, while on the slot of deputy chairman Senate the ruling coalition would decide keeping in view the negotiations with other groups and parties.

Sources said that in the meetings held in the last couple of days, the PML-N leadership had assigned the task to party leaders to contact the smaller parties and groups to win over their support for their candidates for top slots in Senate.

The PML-N seemed well poised to get its man installed as chairman Senate as after joining of couple of independent senators from the Fata in the party, would bring the party’s strength to 35 and with the support of the National Party and the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, which both have five members each in the Upper House, the tally of ruling coalition becomes 45 and it just requires eight more to acquire simple majority in the house of 104.

Sources in the party said that the party leaders were already in contact with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, which has five members in the Upper House, while negotiations with the JUI-F, another coalition partner of the PML-N, were underway.

As JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman is also in contact with PPPP President Asif Ali Zardari, so Fazl would go for a better bargain.

Sources in the PML-N said that in case of managing the MQM five senators or FATA members the party would come near the golden figure of 53, and the support of JI or any other party with couple of seats would make it for the PML-N.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which has emerged as the third-largest party in the Upper House with 12 senators in its fold is unlikely to join any of the two major parties, the PML-N and the PPP, in the run for the top slot, so this situation would further ease out things for the PML-N, which was already well positioned to clinch the top slot.

Sources in the party said that the PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif would be holding meeting with coalition partners in a day or so to devise strategy for the elections of the chairman and deputy chairman Senate and also discuss the option of doling out the slot of deputy chairman to a group or some junior coalition partner.

The PML-N leadership was also discussing the names of potential candidates for the slot of chairman and a few names including a name of a lady senator were under consideration, and the final decision in this connection would be made in consultation with junior coalition partners.

The party sources informed that the potential candidates for the top slot included Raja Zafarul Haq, Sardar Yaqoob Khan Nasir, Pervaiz Rashid and Nuzhat Sadiq.

In case of bringing chairman from Punjab then definitely the slot of deputy chairman would be doled out to Balochistan.

But the proposition of bringing chairman Senate from Balochistan could not be ruled out and in this case Sardar Yaqoob Khan Nasir would be the only choice because of his unflinching loyalty with the party and its leadership.

But in case the candidate from Punjab would be taken then anyone from the three Raja Zafarul Haq, Pervaiz Rasheed and Nuzhat Sadiq could be picked, while the slot of deputy chairman would be doled out to smaller province either to Balochistan or Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

The chances of bringing in deputy chairman Senate from the Fata in lieu of their support to the ruling coalition could not be ruled out, a source in the party said.