While the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is approaching other opposition groups in a bid to enlist their support for its presidential candidate, Senator Raza Rabbani, the PML-N’s has narrowed down its options to Mamnoon Hussain.
Hussain confirmed on Tuesday that he has been officially picked by the PML-N. “The party collected nomination papers for me on Monday which I’ll personally submit before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) chief justice on Wednesday,” he told Daily Express in Karachi.
Sources in the PML-N also confirmed that Hussain has nominated informally for the top slot. Officially, the party would announce his name at a meeting Wednesday morning. Hussain is a senior vice president of the PML-N and former governor of Sindh. If elected, Hussain would be the 11th president of Pakistan.
Earlier Prime Minister’s Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Justice (Retd) Saeeduz Zaman Siddiqui were also on the list of PML-N nominees.
According to the schedule announced by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), nomination papers for the presidential elections will be submitted today (Wednesday) with the high court chief justices.
“I belong to Karachi. If elected, I’ll try to resolve Sindh’s issues and restore peace in Karachi,” Hussain told Daily Express. “Development and progress will begin from Sindh,” he added.
On the other hand, the Awami National Party (ANP) and Balochistan National Party-Awami (BNP-A) have decided to support PPP’s nominee Senator Raza Rabbani.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the three political parties chaired by Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah. The meeting was attended by PPP’s Makhdoom Amin Fahim and Qamar Zaman Kaira, ANP’s Afrasiab Khattak and BNP-A’s Senator Kalsoom Perveen.
The PPP also approached other opposition parties, including PML-Q and JUI-F, to garner support for Senator Rabbani. A party delegation, comprising Fahim, Shah, Kaira and Senator Aitzaz Ahsan, met with Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain to enlist his party’s support. Though the PML-Q has already nominated Senator Saeedul Hassan Mandokhel for the president’s slot, Shujaat told the media after the meeting that his party would withdraw its candidate in favour of Rabbani.
The delegation also met with JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman who, however, was non-committal. He told the PPP delegation that his party favoured a ‘consensus candidate’ from either the government or the opposition. A consensus candidate is highly unlikely as the two major opposition parties – the PPP and PTI – have already decided to field their own candidates.
“Since both PML-N and PPP desire to evolve consensus on one candidate, it will be a good omen for the federation if a joint candidate is agreed upon,” said the Maulana. At the same time, he voiced appreciation for Senator Rabbani’s services to the cause of democracy and constitutionalism. Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, the second biggest opposition group in the National Assembly after the PPP, has nominated Justice (Retd) Wajihuddin Ahmed as its presidential candidate, PTI leader Asad Umar confirmed to The Express Tribune.
The PPP will also contact Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and PTI to evolve consensus on Senator Rabbani. MQM’s senior politician Wasay Jalil said the party has yet not taken a decision. “We will discuss the issue tonight or tomorrow and then decide our strategy for the presidential election,” he added.
Senator Rabbani will submit his nomination papers with the Islamabad High Court chief justice on Wednesday. “Though it is not possible for the opposition candidates to win the presidential election, the PPP is trying to forge unity among opposition groups to show that they have a reasonable mandate to counter the PML-N in any election,” a PPP leader told The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2013.