A new era will be ushered in today – one in which the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) will have a decisive role in the upper house – when senators-elect take their oath of office.
After being sworn in, 54 new and 50 continuing senators, including four non-Muslim representatives, will elect the chairman and deputy chairman of the Senate for the next three years.
President Asif Ali Zardari has designated Senator Afrasiab Khattak to preside over the session and to administer oaths to the newly elected senators. The presiding officer will also swear in the chairman, who will subsequently conduct the election for deputy chairman.
Earlier on Saturday, the coalition partners endorsed the PPP’s move to retain the top slots of the Senate. Syed Nayyer Hussain Bokhari, currently leader of the house, will replace Senate Chairman Farooq H Naek. Senator Sabir Baloch is due to replace Jan Muhammad Jamali as the deputy.
Raza Rabbani, Aitzaz Ahsan and Dr Babar Awan are among the contenders for the slot of leader of the house, according to PPP sources. Awan, sources say, is the favourite for the role.
Elections on March 2 led to the PPP emerging as the single largest party in the Senate, with 41 seats. The main opposition, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), won 14 seats. Senator Ishaq Dr of the PML-N is likely to be the new opposition leader in the Senate.
The new senators will remain in the house for a six-year term. The 50 colleagues they are joining will step down in three years.
Some leading figures who will be taking their oath of office today include: Sardar Zulfiqar Ali Khan Khosa from the PML-N; Farhatullah Babar, Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Raza Rabbani, Aitzaz Ahsan and Zaheer-ud-Din Baber Awan from the PPP; Mushahid Hussain Syed and Kamil Ali Agha from the PML-Q; Mustafa Kamal and Nasreen Jalil from the MQM; and Shahi Syed from the ANP.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 12th, 2012.