Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Senator Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan is the new opposition leader in the upper house of Parliament while Senator Raja Zafarul Haq has been appointed leader of the house in the Senate.
Haq was appointed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and is a close aide of his. However, Aitaz Ahsan was notified of his new position by Chairman Senate Syed Nayyar Hussain Bokhari.
The opposition leader in the Upper House is picked from the largest opposition party while the house leader is chosen by the premier.
Hence, Bokhari nominated Aitzaz Ahsan as opposition leader as the latter’s party, the PPP, has the greatest number of seats in the house from among all opposition parties — amounting to 39 out of a total of 104.
Not only is the PPP the largest opposition party, it also happens to be the largest party in the Senate. Though the new leader of the house belongs to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, the party does not have majority seats in the Senate, as it does in the Lower House. Yet, the PML-N will occupy treasury benches while the PPP will sit on opposition benches.
It seems that the PML-N has to wait till Senate elections in March 2015 to acquire a majority in the house, by which time many sitting senators will have retired.
Last week, former opposition leader in Senate Ishaq Dar and former leader of the house senator Farooq H Naek had tendered their resignations to the Senate chairman after the transition of power from one political party to another so that fresh adjustments could be made in the House.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 11th, 2013.