ISLAMABAD: Seasoned Senator Ishaq Dar of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was declared Leader of the Opposition in the upper house of Parliament on Wednesday, bagging support of 14 lawmakers from his own party, seven from Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), and two independent senators.
In the 104-member house, where the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party is the single largest party, Dar stepped into the shoes of JUI-F’s Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, who had remained opposition leader in the Senate until the March 2 elections. After the polls, the PML-N emerged as the largest opposition party in the upper house.
Dar, a close relative of PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, was re-elected unopposed on a technocrat seat from Punjab after completing a previous six-year tenure as senator.
He was also the chairperson of the Senate Standing Committee on Industries and Production during his previous stint at the house. He has also been the parliamentary leader of his party for the last three years.
During the 1990 PML-N government’s tenure, Senator Dar held a number of cabinet portfolios, including that of finance minister. Immediately after the 2008 general elections, he was once again picked to head the finance ministry in the coalition government before the PML-N PPP honeymoon as coalition partners ended just a few months after its initiation.
The question that still has not been answered, however, is who the post of leader of the house will go to. With Nayyer Bokhari elected as chairman, the seat is now vacant – and some of the names coming to the fore include PPP stalwarts Aitzaz Ahsan, Farhatullah Babar, Raza Rabbani and Babar Awan.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 15th, 2012.