ISLAMABAD - Although there are grim chances to have a consensus list of candidates for the upcoming Senate elections from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan to avoid polling, yet Pakistan People’s Party is engaged in hectic consultation with other parties in both these provinces to have unanimous list of candidates like they had managed in Punjab.

Sources in Pakistan People’s Party informed TheNation that Prime Minister Gilani had tasked the senior party leadership in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to finalise the list of the party candidates in consultation with the coalition partners and other smaller groups, so that a consensus list of candidates could be finalised by 24th of this month when the final list of candidates would be displayed by the Election Commission of Pakistan for the Senate elections to be held on March 2.

The sources said that both the PPP chapters of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had expressed their displeasure over awarding of party tickets for Senate elections and charged the Central Selection Board of the party, which had interviewed the candidates, for ignoring the merit and accommodating the blue-eyed of party Co-Chairman and others for unknown reasons and completely ignoring the genuine party leaders whose services for the party were unmatchable.

The sources said that mainstream parties in both these provinces wanted to evolve consensus on Senate elections keeping in view their numerical strength in their respective provincial assemblies just to avoid horse-trading, which had remained the hallmark of the previous Senate elections from both these provinces where a number of dark horses had emerged victorious against the wishes of the mainstream parties just by purchasing the votes of MPAs from smaller parties and independents which could not have the requisite strength to get their party candidate elected for Senate.

The sources aware of the deliberations taking place between various groups and parties on the matter said that so far the mainstream parties had failed to bring all the stakeholders in both these provinces on the same page and the MPAs from both the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and particularly Balochistan were resisting the move of evolving consensus on the list of candidates in the light of the strength of these parties and groups in the provincial assemblies and most likely polling would be conducted on general seats if not on seats reserved for technocrats, women and minorities.

Meanwhile, the PPP is confronted with another issue of evolving consensus on the 20th Constitutional Amendment to get it through from the Upper House of the Parliament after its unanimous passage from the National Assembly, as two main coalition partners of the ruling PPP wanted some further amendments in the draft of the Amendment.

The sources in the party informed that Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid-e-Azam) which kept silent, after PPP sliced a deal with Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) by accommodating some of their demands regarding the Election Commission of Pakistan and caretaker setup in the draft of the 20th Constitutional Amendment, but now they wanted to get the 20th Amendment further amended to incorporate the clause to take back the powers of the curricula formulation back from provinces which went to the provincial purview after the devolution of education ministry to the provinces.

Similarly the MQM was also there to press the government for their demands of having a revised local bodies setup in the province ahead of the next general elections and some other demands as the government in the Upper House was short of two-thirds of strength and would be greatly depending on MQM and PML-Q who collectively have the strength of 27 in the house of 100.

The sources aware of the developments taking place in this regard informed that Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani’s meeting with Governor Sindh and Chief Minister in Karachi was primarily focused on the set of demands of MQM vis-à-vis the fate and future of the local bodies set-up in the province.

The sources in the party informed that the bargaining between the coalition partners for smooth sailing of the 20th Amendment from Upper House of the Parliament would also have impact on the March 2 Senate elections, as the PPP might concede another couple of seats to its junior coalition partners in Sindh and Balochistan.