ISLAMABAD – PPP has made high-level contacts with PML-N and JUI-F for unopposed election of chairman and deputy chairman of senate.

Sources in the PPP (Pakistan People’s Party) informed The Nation that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani himself rang up Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Ch Nisar Ali Khan a couple of days back and made the request to let their candidates for the above said slots elected unopposed.

The PPP-led ruling alliance has a two-thirds majority and its candidates could easily be elected with thumping majority even without support of PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz), JUI-F (Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl) and other opposition parties, but PPP seeks to get them elected unopposed.

These sources said that Ch Nisar did not give any assurance to Gilani, telling him that PML-N leadership would take the decision in this connection on Monday morning before the senate session to administer oath to the newly-elected senators. They further said that the premier also discussed with Nisar the appointment of new Chief Election Commissioner, the election of Leader of Opposition in the Upper House and other matters.

PML-N leadership would also decide its strategy on the elections to senate chairman and opposition leader. The latter slot is likely be clinched by PML-N provided the ruling PPP would not create any hurdle in their way like they did last time when outgoing chairman Farooq H Naek gave preference to JUI-F’s Abdul Ghafooq Haideri on PML-N candidate Ishaq Dar.

Sources informed that JUI-F President Fazlur Rehman has already been taken on board and he has assured the PPP leadership that his party would not bring any candidate to contest for the slots of chairman or deputy chairman and they would support the move of the PPP to get their candidates elected unopposed.

Some parliamentary sources said that the recent changes in the Senate Rules of Business could once again give leverage to the government to manoeuvre the election of Leader of the Opposition and could once again rob PML-N of its due right of securing the slot for being the largest parliamentary party in the opposition with the strength of 14 against JUI-F that has only seven senators in its fold.

Sources further said that under the amended Rules of Business, any person enjoying majority in the opposition ranks could become Leader of Opposition, and if ruling alliance wanted so they could simply place the Fata senators and a few independents at JUI-F’s disposal to turn the tables on PML-N. In this backdrop, the ruling PPP could convince the PML-N to let its candidates for chairman and deputy chairman slots elected unopposed and giving them assurance that they would not create any hurdle in the election of their candidate as Leader of Opposition in return.

PML-N sources informed that though Raja Zafarul Haq is the parliamentary leader of the party in senate but the party’s candidate for the slot of Leader of Opposition would be Senator Ishaq Dar, who had secured consent of Raja Zafarul Haq in previous election for this slot when it fell vacant due to PML-Q’s joined the treasury benches. They said that PML-N leadership would be meeting in Punjab House on Monday morning to formally announce the name of Dar as their candidate, while the decision about letting or not the PPP get its candidates elected chairman and deputy chairman unopposed would also be taken in that meeting.

Meanwhile, the newly-elected 54 Senators-elect, including four minorities’ members who will be inducted for the first time in the Senate’s history, will take oath at the inaugural session of the upper house’s parliamentary year here Monday (today) morning.

President Asif Ali Zardari has designated Awami National Party’s Senator Afrasyab Khattak to preside over this special session of the upper house wherein, after taking oath, the newly-inducted senators will sign the roll of members after which the session will take a break. Later, the papers for the slot of chairman Senate will be submitted to the presiding officer.

Sources in the government said efforts were being made to secure the election of chairman and deputy chairman Senate unopposed. There was a strong likelihood that no one from opposition would file papers to contest elections on these slots paving the way for unopposed election on both these slots.

The Senate will meet again in the evening at 3.00pm to elect Chairman Senate in case some other candidates file the nomination papers otherwise the presiding officer will administer oath to the newly-elected Senator chairman.

Chairman Senate after assuming the charge will conduct the election for deputy chairman and later administer him oath of his office. After electing chairman and deputy chairman the upper house session will prorogue. After the recent Senate elections, Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) has emerged as a majority party in the House with 41 seats followed by PML-N with 14 seats and ANP with 12 seats and JUI-F and MQM with seven seats each, PML-Q five, BNP-A four and National Party and PML-F with one member each while the remaining members in the house of 104 are independents.

The current Senate elections had washed out Jamaat-i-Islami, Pkhtunkhawa Milli Awami Party, Balochistan National Party and Pakistan People’s Party (Sherpao) from the upper house of the parliament.

Those who would take oath from Punjab will include, PML-N’s M Hamza, Sardar Zulfiqar Ali Khan Khosa, Zafarullah Khan and Rafiq Rajwana; PPP’s Zaheeruddin Babar Awan, PML-Q’s Kamil Ali Agha and an independent candidate Muhammad Mohsin Khan Leghari.

Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan and Ishaq Dar and Khalida Perveen of PPPP and Nuzhat Sadiq of PML-N will take oath on seats reserved for ulema and technocrats and women respectively. Minority member from Punjab will be Kamran Michael of PML-N.

From Sindh, Saeed Gani, Raza Rabbani, Mukhtiar Ahmed Dhamra and Karim Khawaja of PPPP; Syed Mustafa Kamal and Tahir Mashadi of MQM and Syed Muzafar Hussain Shah of PML-F will take oath on general seats, Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh of PPPP and Barrister Farogh Naseem of MQM against the seats reserved for ulema and technocrats and PPPP’s Mudassar Sehar Kamran and MQM’s Nasreen Jalil will take oath on seats reserved for women. Minority senator-elect from Sindh is Harri Ram Kishori Lal.

From Khyber PakhtunKhwa, Senators-elect ANP’s Shahi Syed, Baz Muhammad Khan and Azam Hoti, PPPP’s Haji Saifullah Khan Bangash and Ahmad Hassan, JUI-F’s Muhammad Talha Mahmood and PML-N’s Nisar Muhammad will take oath. These members were elected on general seats.

On two seats reserved for women Mrs Rubina Khalid of PPPP and Mrs Zahida Khan of ANP and on seats reserved for ulema and technocrats ANP’s Ilyas Ahmed Bilour and PPPP’s Farhatullah Babar will take oath. ANP’s Amar Jeet is a minority member from KPK.

From Balochistan, ANP’s advocate Muhammad Daud Khan Achekzai, PPPP’s Sardar Fateh Muhammad Hassani, Nawabzada Saifullah Magsi and Muhammad Yousaf Baloch, PML-Q’s Saeedul Hassan Mandokhail, JUI-F’s Hafiz Hamdullah and BNP-A’a Mir Israrullah Khan Zehri will take oath

on general seats. BNP-A’s Naseema Ehsan and PML-Q’s Mrs Robina Irfan

and Mufti Abdul Sattar of JUI-F and Rozi Khan Kakar of PPPP will take oath on seats reserved for women and ulema and technocrats respectively. Minority senator-elect from Balochistan is Heman Dass of JUI-F.

From Federal Capital Mushahid Hussain Syed of PML-Q and Osman Saifullh will be taking oath on seats reserved for technocrats and a general seat respectively.

For Fata, Hidayatullah, Malik Najamul Hassan, Saleh Shah and Hilalur Rehman are likely to take oath.