With almost the same number of seats in the Upper House, both the PPP and the PML-N are eyeing the Senate Chairman position. It is unclear whether the election of Chairman Senate and Deputy Chairman Senate would be conducted before representatives from FATA are able to cast their votes, which couldn’t happen on the set date because of the controversial presidential ordinance issued on behest of the PML-N leadership. For now, the PPP appears the favourite to win as it is the largest party in the Senate and with the aid of its allies, including the MQM, it will get the required votes. Although the odds are stacked against the PML-N, it is not going to give up without a fight. Both parties can be trusted to try their best since the motivation here is power, not the welfare of the people.

Between the two, it would be better if the PPP’s candidate, who it is yet to propose, were elected Chairman Senate. The PML-N is already running the federal government, with a clear majority in the National Assembly. It would be good for the PML-N as well as the rest of the country that it doesn’t end up dominating both houses. It can hardly handle the power it already wields. Democracy works better when there are checks and balances, when power is shared and not absolute, especially if the concerned entity is the PML-N. This is why the parliament, according to the constitution, cannot pass laws without the approval of the Senate. Even if the PML-N were able to secure the support of all its allies, it would still fall short of the required numbers. The only way it can win is by getting the MQM or other allies of the PPP on its side, which appears unlikely.

The MQM finds itself in an envious position as its support or lack of it can alter the outcome of the election for Senate Chairman and Deputy Chairman. It explains why the MQM did not join the Sindh government despite principally agreeing to it a few weeks back. Now is the right time to hold negotiations, make demands and strike a good deal with the PPP. It is needed, and it will oblige as long as the PPP agrees to what it seeks, which may be the post of Deputy Chairman Senate, provincial ministries and so on. If only all these efforts were directed towards the service of the people.