ISLAMABAD  -  Pakistan People’s Party Sunday sought support of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and other parties for its presidential nominee Aitzaz Ahsan.

Earlier, the PPP nominated Aitzaz Ahsan for the post of President ahead of the polls on September 4.  The party will make a formal announcement after consulting all the opposition parties, PPP leaders said.

The ruling Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf has already named Arif Alvi as its candidate for the post.

Insiders said the PPP and the PTI were also engaged in covert talks regarding the presidential election.

Incumbent President Mamnoon Hussain’s five-year term will end on September 9.

The President is indirectly elected by the Electoral College - a joint sitting of the Senate, National Assembly and the provincial assemblies.

A senior PPP leader told The Nation that the party had contacted the PML-N over the presidential elections for support.  “Aitzaz Ahsan is a good candidate so we have asked the PML-N to support him. There will be more contacts in the coming days,” he said.

According to the Election Commission of Pakistan, nomination papers can be filed with the presiding officers in Islamabad and at the commission’s provincial offices on August 27.

Scrutiny of the nomination papers will be conducted on August 29 while candidature can be withdrawn on August 30.

The list of validated candidates will be published the same day.

Voting for the election will be held in the National Assembly and the four provincial assemblies on September 4.

Aitzaz Ahsan was born on September 27, 1945 in Murree. His initial instruction was from Aitchison College and Government College University. 

He then went on to Downing College, Cambridge to study law. Upon his return from Cambridge, he appeared for and topped the Central Superior Services examination.

He started his political career in the 1970s when he held the portfolio of Punjab information planning and development minister during the PPP government in 1970s.

He has served as the minister for law, justice, interior and education in the federal government between 1988 and 1993.

Elected to the Senate of Pakistan in 1994, he was successively the leader of the house and the leader of the opposition between the years 1996 and 1999.

He is a senior advocate in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. He is also a human rights activist and a founder vice-president of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

PPP leaders said party’s central leadership including Syed Khursheed Shah, Naveed Qamar, Qamar Zaman Kaira and Sherry Rehman had been tasked to woo opposition parties to support PPP’s candidate for presidential election.

A three-member delegation of Atizaz Ahsan, Kaira and Chaudhry Manzoor also met PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari to discuss the build-up to the presidential election.

Last week, the two major political parties had split as the PPP withdrew its support for PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif in the Prime Minister’s election.

The younger Sharif was expected to give some fight to the cricketer-turned politician with the backing of the joint opposition but the PPP’s decision made it essentially a one-sided contest. Imran Khan won the contest with 176 votes against Sharif’s 96. The PPP abstained.

Under a so-called understanding between the opposition parties, the PML-N, the PPP and the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal were to name the candidates for PM, Speaker National Assembly and the Deputy Speaker in accordance with their strength in lower house of the parliament.

Khurshid Shah was named for the post of National Assembly Speaker by the PPP who lost to PTI’s Asad Qaiser but received the PML-N votes taking his tally to 146 against Qaiser’s 176 on August 15.

Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal’s Asad Mehmood also lost his bid for the Deputy Speaker’s slot but almost all the opposition members, 143, voted for him too. PTI’s Qasim Khan Suri won this contest with 183 votes.

The PML-N has nominated Shehbaz Sharif as its parliamentary leader and candidate for the office of the Prime Minister against Imran Khan but his nomination was rejected by the PPP. The PML-N has 81 seats in the National Assembly and the PPP has 54.

Imran Khan’s PTI has 151 seats and with the support of its allies, the total stands at 176 which is more than the required simple majority.  If the PPP and the PML-N manage to strike an unlikely deal on any candidate, the two can still give a tough fight to the PTI on September 4.

Together with the support of smaller groups they can infuse life into the presidential election as they have good strength in the Senate, the Punjab assembly and the Sindh assembly.

PPP TO SUPPORT

SHEHBAZ AS OPP LEADER

NNI adds: A delegation of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) led by Syed Khursheed Shah called on former speaker National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq and requested support of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz for PPP’s nominee for president Aitzaz Ahsan.

As per details garnered, PPP had also announced to support Shehbaz Sharif for the slot of opposition leader in the lower house of the parliament.

PPP’s delegation told Sadiq that they had penned letter to NA speaker Asad Qaiser stating support for Sharif Jr.

The letter has been signed by PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto, Khursheed Shah and Raja Pervez Ashraf.

The move came days after PPP backtracked from the agreement and abstained from voting in favour of Shehbaz Sharif for the slot of premier.

 

SHAFQAT ALI