ISLAMABAD - After marathon deliberations with allies and other stakeholders on Saturday, both PML-N and PPP stopped short of announcing their candidates for top Senate slots.

Both the major players would most probably announce the names of their contenders for chairman and deputy chairman today, just a day before tomorrow’s election.

The only names floated for the Senate chairman slot came from six-member Senators’ group from Balochistan.

However, at a joint press conference with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan, Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Qadoos Bizenjo floated the names of Anwar Kakar and Sadiq Sanjarani, saying that one them would be their candidate for the top slot in the Upper House.

Bizenjo, who represents the group of independent senators-elect from the south-western province, has secured the PTI support on the condition that the candidate for the position of chairman would be from Balochistan and not from the Pakistan People’s Party.

Earlier in the day, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz held a detailed intra-party discussion on the Senate elections. Chaired by PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif, the meeting was attended by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Leader of the House in Senate Raja Zafarul Haq, Mushahid Ullah Khan, Mushahid Hussain Syed, Pervaiz Rasheed, Musadaq Malik, Marriyam Aurangzeb and others.

After having the in-house discussion, a meeting was held with allied parties’ heads – including Jamiat Ulema Islam-F chief Fazlur Rehman, National Party chief Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai.

Sources informed The Nation that JUI-F chief once again came up with the suggestion that efforts should be made to bring outgoing chairman Mian Raza Rabbani of PPP as a consensus candidate for Senate chairmanship.

Majority of those present in the huddle supported the idea and some of them were of the view that in case the PPP reviews its decision and comes up with Rabbani as their candidate, the ruling alliance would extend support to him instead of fielding their own candidate. But if someone else is fielded by the PPP, the ruling coalition will field its own contestant.

According to PML-N insiders, PkMAP chief suggested that the candidate for chairmanship should be from PML-N as it was the single largest party.

It was also his proposal that the matter of announcement of a candidate for the chairman slot should be left to Nawaz Sharif, while the slot of deputy chairman should be given to the coalition parties which would finalise the candidate after mutual consultation.

Talking to the media after the meeting, NP chief Bizenjo, who holds the portfolio of Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs, said that the ruling coalition has empowered Nawaz to decide the candidates for both chairman and deputy chairman slots and the announcement would most likely be made today (Sunday).

To a question, he said that the ruling coalition had managed the number game and they would comfortably get their men elected.

Both the groups of MQM-P also held meetings with Nawaz Sharif and discussed with him various proposals. The meeting of the Fata group with Nawaz could not be held on Saturday due to some pressing engagements of some Fata senators.

PML-N Central Information Secretary Mushahid Ullah said they have managed to get simple majority in the 104-member House but they were still trying to woo more votes. Their leadership was busy consulting smaller parties having one or two seats in the Upper House to consolidate the position, he added.

He said that PML-Functional chief Pir Sigbatullah Rashidi has also assured support to their candidates.

On Friday, Fata senators met with Prime Minister Abbasi and presented their demands for extending support to the ruling alliance, and it was decided that the same would be tabled before Nawaz Sharif in Saturday’s meeting, but now their meeting would likely be held on Sunday.

On the other hand, PPP leadership also held a meeting and discussed various options for Senate elections. PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari welcomed the proposal of PTI chief that future Senate chairman should be from Balochistan and gave his assent to the choice of Balochistan group, which has already given the names of Anwar Kakar and Sadiq Sanjrani for chairman slot and suggested giving the slot of deputy chairman to the PPP.

But PPP leadership was still keeping open the option of bringing in Rabbani as their candidate, and they could bring him in case things appeared to be going out of hand. It was due to this reason that PPP leadership after its meeting on Saturday did not announce its candidates for the two Senate slots.

With 34 senators in hand and unflinching support of NP and PkMAP, both having five senators each, the PML-N already has a sure number of 44. And, the party leaders are making hectic efforts to win over the support of smaller parties and independents to achieve the figure of 53, the magic number required to clinch the top Senate slots.

The PPP has 20 senators and even if it wins the support of Fata and Balochistan senators, it would take its total strength to 35. If they succeed in winning PTI’s 12 votes the tally would rise to 47, still short of six votes to achieve the simple majority.



Marathon moots fail to produce final names