ISLAMABAD - Although all the stakeholders have fielded their candidates for the upcoming Senate elections from all the four provinces, federal capital and Fata region, but backchannel negotiations among the parties to form alliance with the aim to get maximum out of these elections as well as to block the way of horse-trading are in full swing and would continue till the last date for withdrawal of nomination papers on 25th of this month.

On the other hand two major political parties - Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) - having stake on the coveted slots of chairman and deputy chairman Senate - were also engaged in discussion on the post-Senate elections scenario, sources aware of the developments on this front informed The Nation.

These sources said that ruling PML-N leadership had approached the leadership of PPP in this connection and both sides could land at some common ground following a policy of give and take on the top two positions.

These sources said that Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif would likely meet Co-Chairman of Pakistan People’s Party Asif Ali Zardari during his day-long visit to Karachi today(Monday) to conclude the negotiations between the two parties going on through some intermediaries for the past few days.

Sources said that ruling PML-N had offered a slot of deputy chairman and chairmanship of some important standing committees in the upper house of parliament to the PPP for securing the slot of chairman Senate which remained with the PPP for the last two stints.

These sources further said that in case of reaching some agreement with PPP the PML-N and Qaumi Watan Party would be extending support to PPP and ANP in winning one seat each, which both parties could not manage as their joint strength in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa Assembly is 10 whereas for winning a general seat the party would be requiring some 17.7 members in the provincial assembly while for woman or technocrat seat party would be requiring simple majority in the house of 124.

The first overt contact in this connection was made a couple of days back when Federal Minister for Railways Kh Saad Rafique met with PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari and conveyed Prime Minister Sharif’s message to him expressing his(PM’s) desire to take further the politics of reconciliation and cooperation in the elections for the two top slots.

Sources in ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) informed that the prime minister was of the view that instead of getting blackmailed at the hands of smaller parties and groups in the upper house the two major political parties should join hands in the elections of chairman and deputy chairman Senate, the point PPP leadership had also agreed to.

In the light of discussion and broad understanding between the two major parliamentary parties they would likely contest Senate elections from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa together while Qaumi Watan Party had already announced alliance with ruling PML-N. On the other hand, Awami National Party is already in alliance with PPP and joined by PML-N and QWP their strength in the 124 house of KP Assembly will become 37 enabling them to clinch four seats - two general and one woman and one technocrat seat.

Sources said that ruling PML-N had fielded only a single candidate on general seat from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa while in case the talks on contesting elections from the province and other matters would be finalised between the PML-N and PPP, the QWP, PPP and ANP would be able to bag one seat each, which all the three could not manage to win independently with their strength in the KP Assembly - QWP 10 and PPP and ANP five each.

PML-N leadership also wanted to bring Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl) as its coalition partner in the federal government but failed to woo it for jointly contesting Senate elections from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, said a source in the government, adding, that in case JUI-F contested elections independently, it would be able to win one seat each from both these provinces for which it would be requiring a support of couple of MPs from both these provincial assemblies.

Sources in the ruling PML-N said that party leadership was confident to woo the JUI-F into the alliance before the withdrawal of the nomination papers for these elections.

Analysts monitoring these elections said that in the given situation and the strength of political parties in the electoral-college for these elections, tentatively PML-N and PPP would take their tally in the upper house of the parliament to 26 (with a margin of plus or minus one) while JUI-F would stand at five(in case wins two seats) MQM eight, Fata eight, BNP-A three, PML-Q four, PTI five, JI one, AJIP one while National Party and Pakhtunkhwa-Milli Awami Party would jointly bring five to six senators in the upper house as the final decision on their share in these elections was yet to be decided. Prime Minister Sharif would be visiting the provincial capital Quetta most likely on 18th of this month to seal the deal with its junior coalition partners.