ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) is getting cold response from PML-N over its demand for the slot of the Senate chairman while the latter is even half-heartedly agreeing on giving the position of deputy chairman to the former in the upcoming upper house polls.

PPP, currently having the largest strength in the Senate, is interested in retaining the chairman’s slot with PML-N’s mutual understanding, but the ruling party has so far refused to accommodate that party.

Both the sides had been busy reaching consensus on the top Senate positions in the previous day, but the government side, sensing its comfortable position, did not agree to cooperate with PPP in this regard. Background interactions and interviews with PPP leaders left this impression.

According to the future scenario, PPP’s number in the Senate is most likely to shrink from 40 to 26 while PML-N is all set to replace it as the largest party with around 27 members.

The PTI, with the help of its ally, JI, will get about seven seats, but it has decided not to support PPP or PML-N nominees. The role of JUI-F, MQM and others would be important for both the parties. MQM which is again ready to shake hands with PPP in Sindh has openly assured it of seat adjustment.

PPP’s bigwigs, who are already engaged in resolving the issues regarding Bilawal’s annoyance, have also been facing much criticism on the proposal of giving the name of Rehman Malik for this position. The sources said a strong lobby had strongly opposed the name of Rehman Malik for the Senate chairman, arguing that Raza Rabbani, Aitzaz Ahsan and Taj Haider could be the best candidates.

Rehman Malik, the sources said, has the support of PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari for this position as he is often given preference to communicate special messages of the party’s leadership to other political factions.

When contacted, former interior minister Rehman Malik said he was not being asked by the party to contest for the slot of the Senate chairman. “I am not going to contest for this slot,” he asserted.

Another senior PPP leader said the picture would become clear after the position of all the parties becomes evident. “This is premature to think over this matter as the issue of horse-trading is the most important right now,” he added.

The sources said PPP’s bigwigs had started discussing this issue after Asif Ali Zardari’s meeting with Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique, who conveyed the proposal for mutual understanding to thwart any possible move of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) – the third opposition party.

They said the PML-N government was doubtful about the future cooperation of PPP over legislation as the incumbent government had already faced much criticism for its poor performance in terms of legislation.

During the first parliamentary year, the 14th assembly could turn only finance bill into act of the parliament whereas the remaining 10 bills could not sail through due to less strength of PML-N in the upper house of the Parliament.