Sherry submits nomination with support of 33 members

Despite PPP’s conclusive majority, PTI continues efforts to field own candidate, garners MQM’s support


Hafeez Tunio/irfan Ghauri March 15, 2018
PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto nominated Rehman for the position on Wednesday. PHOTO: EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD/ KARACHI: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Sherry Rehman on Thursday submitted her nomination for the slot of the Senate’s leader of opposition with 33 members supporting her bid.

However, despite the PPP having more than the required strength to get its senator appointed to the office, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has continued its efforts to field its own candidate for the slot with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM-P) vowing to support Imran Khan’s party.

The cooperation between two main opposition parties – the PPP and the PTI – did not last more than a few days. Both parties have been vying for the slot of the leader of opposition after they jointly elected Senate chairman and deputy chairman with the support of independents and smaller opposition groups.

On March 12 after oath of 53 new senators, Sadiq Sanjrani – an independent from Balochistan – was elected Senate chairman. The PPP, the biggest group in opposition, failed to retain office of chairman and voted for Sanjrani, but it succeeded in getting elected its Saleem Mandviwala as deputy chairman.

The PTI is now adamant to field its own candidate for the office of leader of opposition. The party has 12 senators of its own. It has now bagged support of the MQM-P and is trying to get support of other smaller groups.

In 104-member upper house, around 53 senators are in the opposition. A member commanding support of majority of members from opposition benches will be appointed the leader of opposition. The Senate chairman notifies new office-bearer after going through nominations.

The PPP succeeded in getting signatures from 33 members for Sherry’s nomination. These include 20 senators from the PPP, five of the six newly elected independents from Balochistan, Yousaf Badini another independent from Balchistan from 2015 batch, six of the 8 independents from tribal areas.

We respect Sherry Rehman but can't support PPP candidate: Faisal Subzwari

A member each from Awami National Party (ANP) and Balochistan National Party (BNP-M) has also supported Rehman. The PPP sources said they are hopeful to secure support of another two members before the Senate chairman notifies new leader of opposition. Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani is likely to issue notification of Sherry Rehman as new leader of opposition in a day or two.

If elected, Rehman – former Pakistan ambassador to the United States – would be the first female opposition leader in the upper house of parliament.  If notified, she will replace Aitzaz Ahsan, who retired on March 11 along with 52 other senators on completing six year term in Senate. Rehman was also federal minister for information and broadcasting from 2008-2009 in the PPP government.

MQM-P announces support to PTI candidate

The MQM-P on Thursday announced its support for the PTI’s possible candidate for the slot of leader of opposition in the Senate after the PTI delegation comprising – Imran Ismail, Azam Swati, Haleem Adil Shaikh and Firdous Shamim – visited the office of the MQM-P Bahadurabad faction and met with its Rabita Committee convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui.

After the meeting, leaders of both the parties addressed a press conference.

“We respect [the Pakistan Peoples Party candidate] Sherry Rehman who is a qualified woman, but cannot support a PPP candidate for slot of Senate opposition leader,” said the MQM-P leader Faisal Subzwari.

“We voted for Balochistan’s candidate. Saleem Mandviwala is a resident of Karachi but due to his association with the PPP, we did not vote for him,” Subzwari said.

The PTI’s Imran Ismail told the media they were there to get support for Azam Swati. “We have spoken to different political parties and we have the numbers for it,” he claimed.

Referring to his party’s last visit to Bahadurabad, he said, “During our last visit, we requested the MQM to support Balochistan’s candidate for the post of Senate chairman and they did it.”

Why PTI adamant to field its own candidate

After signatures of 33 members from opposition benches, it is almost certain that Sherry Rehman would be notified but still the PTI wants to field its candidate for political compulsions.

Sources in the PTI said the party wants to negate any impression of cooperation with the PPP. After these parties joined hands in election for the offices of chairman and deputy chairman, ruling PML-N resorted to making mockery of this cooperation reminding the PTI chief’s sarcastic remarks against the PPP supremo Asif Ali Zardari.

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