Ishaq Dar may lead opposition in Senate

Javed Hashmi tenders resignation from the NA.

Irfan Ghauri May 12, 2011


Senator Ishaq Dar of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is likely to be the new leader of the Opposition in the Senate, as his party has secured the support of majority of the smaller groups sitting on the opposition benches in the Upper House of parliament, The Express Tribune has learnt.

Dar and Maulana Ghafoor Haidri of Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam have emerged as the front-runners for the post which fell vacant after Waseem Sajjad joined the treasury benches along with his party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q).

The PML-N has seven members of its own in the Senate while it claims the support of newly formed five-member PML-Q dissident group and four members of the Salim Saifullah-led PML-Q like minded group, another breakaway faction of the Chaudhry Shujaat-led PML-Q.

Jamat-e-Islami’s three senators and some smaller groups have also assured their support to the PML-N, sources said, adding that the PML-N enjoys the support of at least 18 members now against around a dozen members backing the JUI-F contestant.

Under the rules, no election for the leader of the opposition takes place. The chairman Senate in the case of Senate and Speaker National Assembly in the case of National Assembly notify an Opposition member as the leader of the Opposition, who according to his assessment enjoys the support of majority of the members sitting on the opposition benches. Usually the members give in writing which member they support for the post.

Dar and Raja Zafarul Haq of the PML-N were the two potential candidates of the party for the post. PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif has given a go-ahead to Dar for this
office, sources said.

The ongoing session of the Senate will be prorogued on Friday after the joint session and it is likely that the chairman will notify the new leader of the Opposition before the start of next session.

Meanwhile Javed Hashmi, a central leader of the PML-N who has been voicing differences with his party leadership over many policies, has submitted his resignation to his party leadership from his National Assembly seat.

The party leadership has declined to accept the resignation. Hashmi is considered a stalwart of the PML-N in southern Punjab. His differences with the party’s leadership can serve a serious blow to the PML-N which has a weaker position in southern Punjab compared to northern and central Punjab.

During the 2008 general elections Hashmi, who served a jail sentence during the Musharraf era, contested on three seats including one from Lahore, Rawalpindi and Multan, and won from all three constituencies. He vacated the two seats and kept his native constituency seat from Multan.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 12th, 2011.


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