PPP or PML-N: Who will grab the Senate top office?

Source:  ARY News Published in Politics on Monday, March 05, 2018

KARACHI: Recent Senate poll results brought with it an outcry of horse trading from all and sundry along with an upper house of the parliament with no party has an overall majority.

Pakistan’s Senate comprises of 104 members and a clear majority to replace the outgoing Senate chairman Raza Rabbani, whose office term to end on March 11, need at least 53 votes.

The scene emerged after the Senate polls, made Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the largest parliamentary group of the house with its 33 Senators. Another aspirant for the top slot of the house Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), have overall 20 seats in Senate.

Entry of 17 independents in the house from Balochistan and FATA have infused a factor of uncertainty and a space for maneuvering to the election of the chairman.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) with its 12 senators has been distant fourth in the game of numbers.

The two major parliamentary parties have started their efforts to grab the top office of the upper house. PML-N along with its own 33 members also have the support of the senators from allies including Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PMAP),Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), National Party and a number of FATA members.

Pakistan People’s Party have also initiated contacts with other political parties and the groups comprising independent senators to bring its own chairman of the Senate.

The party’s co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari has proved himself time and again a good strategist for his party. Whether the former president this time outmaneouver the strong rivals or not, it is going to be seen. PPP has won more Senate seats in polls than its actual strength in assemblies.

PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto has in a media talk said that the opposition will try to get its nominee elected as new chairman of the Senate claiming more seats in the house than the PML-N.

He said that at present the PPP, and not the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, was the majority party in the Senate as senators in Punjab were elected independently without any party affiliation and they were yet to join a political party.

He said it would be better for the sake of check and balance on the system of governance that Senate chairman belonged to the opposition as the upper house had to oversee the role of the National Assembly.

Highlighting the PPP strategy the party chairman said that it would consult all political parties having representation in the Senate, except the PML-N, for bringing an opposition-backed chairman of the house.