KARACHI: Pakistan will be among world’s few countries when its four provincial assemblies elect one senator each from religious minority communities on March 2.
The four seats have been reserved for minorities in the Senate following the 18th Amendment. And as the elections are scheduled to be held on March 2, candidates have already started a race to be nominated by one party or the other.
Based on the strength of political parties in the provincial assemblies, the Pakistan Peoples Party is going to bag two Senate seats – one each from Sindh and Balochistan. The Pakistan Muslim League-N is likely to get Punjab’s minority seat with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s seat possibly going to the Awami National Party.
The sources in the PPP told The Express Tribune that its candidate from Sindh is likely to be elected unopposed. “Around 86 votes are required for a minority senator,” said Sono Khan Baloch, the provincial election commissioner, who is also the returning officer for the Senate election in Sindh. He said that candidates can file their nomination papers from February 13 to 14.
Out of 50 senators who are going to retire on March 11, five belong to the PPP. The 168 members of the Sindh Assembly can elect around 20 to 21 senators.
Each of the four provincial assemblies will serve as an electoral college to elect one minority senator. In the Sindh Assembly, the PPP has 94 members, the MQM 51, the National Peoples Party three, the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional eight, the Pakistan Muslim League-Q (likeminded) five, the PML-Q (Chaudhry brothers) three, and the Awami National Party two.
“We have a majority in the provincial assembly and have already developed an understanding with our coalition partners to elect our minority senator unopposed,” a senior PPP leader told The Express Tribune, requesting not to be named.
Sources in the ruling party said that around 12 people have already applied for the minority seat while different groups in the party have started lobbying for their candidates.
Those in the run include, Hari Ram Kishori Lal who is considered to be a close friend of President Asif Ali Zardari, engineer Gianchand Meghwar, who had contested the general election against former chief minister Arbab Rahim on the PPP ticket, Hameer Singh Sodha, the son of the late Rana Chandar Singh, Dr Mahesh Kumar Malani, who is an MNA and president of the PPP in Tharparker district and also the president of the PPP minority wing in Sindh, Dayaram Essrani, the sitting Sindh minister for wildlife, Surendar Valasai, engineer Pesumal Ukrani and engineer Jai Parkash, both cousins of Sindh minister for minority affairs Dr Mohan Lal Kohistani, Dr Jaipal Chabbria, Amarnath advocate and Meher Chand.
Sources in the PPP said that among all the candidates, Hari Ram Kishori Lal, who is also a central executive committee member of the party, is the favourite.
President Asif Ali Zardari, during his last visit to Karachi, had constituted a board under the supervision of his sister, MNA Faryal Talpur, to review the applications before nominating the candidates for the Senate seats. Other members of the board include Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, federal ministers Khurshid Shah and Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Meanwhile, the divisional presidents of the party will also be members of the board.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 20th, 2012.