The names are in, and the top slots of the upper house will stay in the hands of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
President, and co-chairman PPP, Asif Ali Zardari has decided to appoint Nayyar Hussain Bukhari as the new Senate chairman and Sabir Ali Baloch as deputy chairman, sources privy to the development told The Express Tribune.
The outgoing chairman, Farooq H Naek, would be appointed the Minister for Law while Senator Ishaq Dar will be notified as Leader of the Opposition in Senate, replacing the incumbent Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haidri.
The new officers, along with 51 other senators, will take their oath on March 12. The sole independent candidate from Punjab, Mohsin Leghari, has decided to sit on the opposition benches. The outgoing Senate chairman will take his oath as federal law minister later, sources said.
President Zardari categorically refused to accommodate allies’ candidates for top slots in the upper house, sources privy to the development told The Express Tribune.
“The time for people to stand up and blackmail the PPP by showing their numbers has passed,” sources quoted President Zardari telling party’s senior leadership.
With 41 seats out of 104 in hand, the PPP is the single-largest party in the upper house after the recent elections.
The president, during his meetings with allies last week, refused to comply with their demands, sources said.
Both the Awami National Party and the Mutahidda Qaumi Movement, with 12 and seven senators each, had expressed their interest in the deputy chairman slot, but were rebuffed, sources added.
The decision of Bukhari’s appointment as chairman was also confirmed by the deputy nominee, Baloch. He said he has been comfortable working with Bukhari in the past.
About his own appointment as deputy chairman, Bukhari said he will raise the voice of the Baloch people from this post.
“It is gratifying for the people of Balochistan to get the slot of deputy chairman,” said Baloch who was elected a senator from the province in 2009.
Bukhari, the chairman nominee, was elected from the federal capital, and has been serving as as Leader of the House in the Senate.
Making the choice
Sources in the party said the president took the senior leadership into confidence over Bukhari and Baloch’s names.
The other two names that made the rounds earlier – Senator Raza Rabbani and Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan – were dropped for their rigidity and principled stances, sources said.
Bukhari, meanwhile, was a confidant of former premier and PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto, and was nominated as a party senator in 2003 elections to the upper house under Pervez Musharraf.
Dar, a confidant of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz chief Nawaz Sharif, was also elected a senator in 2003.
According to the Constitution, the chairman and his deputy are elected for three years. The outgoing chairman takes oath from the newly-elected senators and the new chairman, who subsequently takes an oath from his freshly-appointed deputy.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 10th, 2012.