Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has formally moved a request with signatures of more than 40 senators to Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani to allocate the Leader of Opposition slot in the Upper House to Raja Zafarul Haq. Haq replaces Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Sherry Rehman as the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.
Reports are that the PML-N had pushed for clinching this spot from PPP because of a dispute which rose among the two opposition parties. On the aftermath of the elections, it seemed as if PPP and PML-N would stand together as a fierce joint opposition in parliament; yet PPP’s withdrawing of support for Shehbaz Sharif as the candidate for Prime Minister quickly disillusioned hopes of a strong alliance. PML-N’s effort to oust a PPP Opposition leader of Senate appears to be a backlash for PPP refusing to vote for any of PML-N candidates in the National and Provincial Assemblies.
Will this move of PML-N further alienate the opposition alliance? The act of dethroning the PPP from the Opposition leader certainly seems like a cause for resentment. However, the mood between the two opposition parties right now appears more conciliatory than before. Though PPP may have lost some power in the Senate, the party seems to be taking it in stride, with the former Opposition leader Sherry Rehman gracefully tweeting in congratulations and best wishes to Raja Zafarul Haq.
It is important to remember that this comes at a time when it is integral for the opposition to be united. The position for the last powerful spot, the President, is up for grabs, and this is the last opportunity for the Opposition parties to hold on to an influential position to wield power for the next five years. Right now, it is imperative that PPP and PML-N put aside their petty differences for once, and make an effort, at least, to clinch the President spot.
From the events so far, it appears that the two parties are making a bit of that effort. From reports of the meeting of the opposition parties in Murree on Saturday, it seems that both parties are coordinating, with PML-N rejecting Aitezaz Ahsan as a candidate but saying they were ready to back a candidate other than him, showing that there was at least some form of compromise. Let’s see if they can keep it up.