Losing an almost guaranteed Senate seat has clearly left a bitter taste for the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) – despite the heavy presence it now holds in the upper house of Parliament.
According to sources, President Asif Ali Zardari has ordered an inquiry into the shock defeat of PPP candidate from Punjab Aslam Gill who lost to a Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q)-affiliated independent candidate, Mohsin Leghari.
Senior PPP leaders, including Qamar Zaman Kaira, Nazar Muhammad Gondal and Raja Pervez Ashraf have been tasked to probe the matter and report back to the president within 15 days.
A meeting of key federal ministers and the senior leadership of the PPP at Aiwan-e-Sadr on Monday had discussed the loss in detail – and, after a lack of concrete answers, the president ordered the inquiry.
Following the elections sources had alleged that the loss was more difficult to swallow given that the president’s highly-influential sister, MNA Faryal Talpur, had personally planned out the entire strategy to ensure that the PPP’s seats were secured smoothly.
But at Monday’s meeting, President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani were also cognizant that they needed to look ahead following the Senate elections.
In a meeting later in the evening with the chiefs of coalition partners, the president and the PPP leadership discussed the options of leadership change in the Senate.
Presidential spokesperson Farhatullah Babar, who himself has won a Senate seat, said that the meetings were convened to discuss the elections for the chairman and deputy chairman of the Senate and will consider the names of possible candidates.
President Asif Ali Zardari, officials from the party told The Express Tribune, was consulting top leaders of the PPP, as well as coalition partners, and would announce his choice in a day or two.
According to sources the PPP is considering three stalwarts for the slot of chairman – and former Law Minister Dr Babar Awan is supposedly the frontrunner. Interestingly, among others being considered for the coveted slot, according to sources, are Barrister Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan and Senator Raza Rabbani.
At the allied parties’ meeting, it was decided that the new deputy chairman of the Senate should be from Balochistan – but there wasn’t consensus on any name.
Also it was not immediately known what new assignment would be given to the incumbent Senate Chairman Farooq H Naek.
Among other things discussed was also the president’s upcoming address to a joint session of Parliament – which will be the incumbent’s fifth address.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 6th, 2012.