Consensus is beginning to emerge within opposition ranks about who will be fielded as a candidate for the top post of Senate chairman. Things may still be murky out there but there is a decent chance of the opposition candidate bagging the post as indicated by the leaders of PTI and PPP. This will be good news for the federation as the consensual candidate – at least for the opposition – is likely to be from Balochistan. This can result in a watershed in the country’s parliamentary history. PTI chief Imran Khan has declared support for Sadiq Sanjrani as its candidate. By all indications the PPP, MQM and Balochistan chief minister are more or less committed to Sanjrani. This seems to work well in theory. But the question to ask is whether this move will make any difference in the long run to the province’s fortunes. If it does then we wish more power (and economic empowerment) to the province and its people. And what to do if it does not bring political dividends to Balochistan? Mere tokenism and populism usually don’t translate into sound policies – although all well-wishers of the federation would want that to happen.
The top leadership of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has made it clear that the party would back such a candidate in keeping with its long-standing political solidarity with Balochistan. Some of the party’s other leaders seem less convinced that the post should go to someone relatively inexperienced of taking charge of the upper house – another way perhaps of saying that Raza Rabbani eminently qualifies for the job and deserves another term as Senate chief. So far the ruling party has been somewhat hazy about its candidate for the post. The signals it seemed to give out indicated a willingness to settle for Rabbani on the condition that the PPP named him as its candidate. This could change however due to the fickleness of politicians and their constant quest for expedience. The ruling party could earn considerable goodwill and admiration if it supports the opposition choice.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 12th, 2018.