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PPP boosts lobbying for Senate offices

AMIR WASIM UPDATED MAR 09, 2015 08:27AM

ISLAMABAD: The opposition PPP has intensified lobbying for the two top Senate offices as senior party
members continued meetings with the heads of smaller political parties and individual senators on Sunday.
Two party delegations separately called on JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and PML-Q Secretary General
Mushahid Hussain Sayed, ahead of a meeting of all allied parties, called by PPP Co-Chairperson Asif Ali
Zardari on Monday evening.
The ruling PML-N also approached the JUI-F on Sunday to seek its cooperation in the upcoming Senate
elections.
Read: Lobbying begins with PPP, PML-N vying for Senate chairman slot
JUI-F spokesman Jan Achakzai said that Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid
Shah, accompanied by Raza Rabbani and Abdul Qayoom Soomro, met Maulana Fazlur Rehman at the latters
residence and discussed the possibilities of cooperation between the two parties in the Senate.
This was the second meeting between the PPP and JUI-F in as many days. The latter is a part of the ruling
coalition with the PML-N at the centre.
Mr Achakzai said that Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid had also met JUI-F Secretary General Abdul
Ghafoor Haideri and Akram Khan Durrani during the day.

Zardari to meet allies today; MQM, JUI-F agree to participate

Mr Achakzai, however, said that his party was keeping all options open and so far had made no decision
regarding support for the PPP or the PML-N.
He said a consultative meeting to finalise the partys strategy was held on Sunday and was also expected to
continue on Monday.
In reply to a question, Mr Achakzai said that Maulana Fazlur Rehman might not attend the meeting at Zardari
House, but the party would definitely send its representatives.
A delegation of Fata MNAs also called on the JUI-F chief on Sunday.
Talking to Dawn, PML-Q Secretary General Mushahid Hussain said a three-member PPP delegation, led by
Raza Rabbani and including Saeed Ghani and Dr Abdul Qayoom Soomro, met him in the day and discussed
the issue of the upcoming elections to the offices of chairman and deputy chairman of the Senate.

The PML-Q leader said since the PPP had decided to choose candidates for the two Senate offices from the
smaller provinces, he had suggested they consider names of party senators from Balochistan Rubina Irfan and
Saeedul Hassan Mandokhel for the office of the deputy chairperson.
The PML-Q leader said his party would definitely attend Mondays meeting of the opposition parties at Zardari
House. He said a government team comprising federal ministers Pervez Rashid and Saad Rafique had also met
him on Saturday night.
PPP spokesperson Farhatullah Babar told Dawn that Mr Zardari had invited party leaders from the Muttahida
Qaumi Movement (MQM), Awami National Party (ANP), JUI-F, PML-Q, Fata and Balochistan National
Party-Awami for the meeting on Monday evening.
Mr Babar said the meeting was aimed at discussing prospects and strategy for fielding consensus candidates
for the offices of chairman and deputy chairman Senate on March 12.
When contacted, MQM spokesman Wasay Jalil said the party had constituted a committee mandated to hold
negotiations with other parties regarding elections to the two offices. The committee, he said, consisted of
Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Dr Farooq Sattar, Babar Ghouri, Rauf Siddiqui and Farogh Nasim.
The MQM leader said Dr Farooq Sattar and Rashid Godil would represent the party in the meeting that had
been called by Mr Zardari. He said so far the MQM despite being the third largest party in the Senate had not
made any formal demand to get the office of the chairman or the deputy chairman of the upper house.
Sources in PPP said the names of partys parliamentary leader in the Senate Raza Rabbani and Farooq Naek
were presently being considered by the party leadership for the office of the chairman.
A senior PPP leader, privy to meetings taking place at the Zardari House, said the party leadership believed that
Mr Rabbani seemed to be most appropriate candidate for the office as he enjoyed support within and outside
the party. However, he said, Mr Zardari did not want to announce any candidate without discussing it with all
the allies.
Moreover, he said, the party would also like to wait for a courts decision on a petition of Fata MNAs who had
challenged the presidential order which was issued hours before the polling for the Senate members on March
5.
The PPP leader disclosed that he had heard some unconfirmed reports that the government might delay the
elections of the chairman and the deputy chairman. He said the government under the Senate rules could delay
the voting for seven days.
Since both PPP and PML-N have almost equal representation and were not in a position to get their candidates
elected to the top Senate offices on their own, both had agreed to offer the office of the deputy chairman to the
smaller parties.
Sources in the ruling PML-N said the government was even ready to offer the office of the chairman to any of
its allied party. They said the party was seriously considering nominating Hasil Bizenjo as its candidate for the
Senate chairman.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who had constituted a team to hold negotiations with the other parties on
Saturday, is expected to hold consultations with the party members after his return from Lahore to Islamabad
on Monday.

Except for the four senators of the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (Fata), the upper house of parliament
is now in place to elect its new chairman and deputy chairman.
The PPP has retained its position as the single largest party in the Senate with 27 members, while the PML-N
is a close second with 26 senators. The Senate at the moment comprises 100 members.
Other parties such as the MQM (eight members), ANP (seven), PML-Q (four) and newcomer PTI, which has
returned six senators to the house from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, will be playing a crucial role in deciding who
wears the crown.
PTI chief Imran Khan has already announced that his party would not support PML-N or PPP for the election
of the chairman and deputy chairman Senate.
The president has convened a sitting of the Senate on March 12 to elect a chairman and deputy chairman.