ISLAMABAD .: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Thursday turned the tables on his political rivals by announcing his party’s support to Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo.
The move, though unexpected, comes as hectic political manoeuvrings were under way for the upcoming election of the new Senate chairman. Imran Khan says that the net chairman should come from Balochistan.
“PTI wishes to see next Senate chairman from the most deprived province,” Khan said after a meeting with a group of independent senators-elect from Balochistan led by Chief Minister Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo at the Balochistan House in Islamabad.
“CM Balochistan now enjoys the all-out support of the PTI’s all 13 senators. Now, it’s up to him to negotiate with other political parties to get a senator from Balochistan elected as the Senate chairman,” Khan announced.
“Balochistan has a strong sense of deprivation. It is a golden opportunity to lessen that sense by electing the Senate chairman from Balochistan,” Khan said.
A senior party leader later told The Express Tribune that the Balochistan chief minister had categorically been told that the PTI support was conditional and limited only to supporting the chief minister in his demand that the Senate chairman’s slot should be given to Balochistan.
Under this scenario, the leader said, PTI was willing to support any candidate of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) for the slot of Senate deputy chairman. “The PTI will be at liberty to withdraw its support in case the Balochistan chief minister agrees to surrender the demand of the Senate chairman slot while negotiating with the PPP,” he added.
The PTI chief said that his party’s objective was to stonewall any attempts by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz to grab the top Senate position.
When asked by a reporter if the chief minister cuts a deal with the PPP by giving it chairman’s slot in return for deputy chairman’s slot from Balochistan, the PTI chief said: “With our support, the chief minister has the upper hand in terms of numbers.”
He added: “Bizenjo enjoys the support of 21 senators while the PPP has 20. Now it’s up to him to decide. But, my wish is that they (senators from Balochistan) manage to get their chairman elected.”
Responding to another question if the PML-N nominated Ports and Shipping Minister Hasil Bizenjo — who also hails from Balochistan — as the Senate chairman, the PTI chief said his party would only support a blue-blood individual from Balochistan.
The PTI chief said his efforts were only aimed at hampering the PML-N’s efforts for grabbing the important Senate position. “The PML-N is hell bent upon crippling the state institutions. We are concerned if the Senate chairman is from the PML-N, they may enact a law to legalise corruption of Nawaz Sharif and his family,” Khan observed.
The PTI chairman advised other political forces to struggle to prevent the PML-N from achieving its wish. He said he had convened a meeting of the party’s core group on Friday (today) to discuss the party’s strategy for the election of the Senate chairman and deputy chairman.
On the occasion, the PTI chairman also congratulated Mir Quddus Bizenjo for his election as the chief minister of Balochistan and lauded him for the historic in-house change. Bizenjo thanked the PTI chairman for his support.
Bizenjo landed in Islamabad along with the group of six independents. Besides meeting the PTI chief group, also held a separate meeting the PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari.
After the March 3rd Senate election, the role of independents is getting more important. The developments on Thursday gave credence to reports that efforts were afoot to accommodate an independent senator from Balochistan on one of the two top Senate positions.
Anticipating that move, the PML-N which had publically proposed the name of Mian Raza Rabbani on Wednesday has now floated the name of Mir Hasil Bizenjo, head of its allied National Party, who also hails from Balochistan.
Though Zardari has not formally announced his party’s candidates for any of the two slots, insiders say that Saleem Mandviwala is on the top of his list. However, the names being proposed by Zardari are not getting support from other opposition groups.