The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) – the largest opposition party in the National Assembly – has refused to support the government’s nominee for the office of president. Instead, the party asked the ruling Pakistan Muslim League to support Senator Raza Rabbani for the top slot.
On the other hand, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the second largest opposition party in the National Assembly after the PPP, and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) also unveiled their candidates for the presidential election scheduled for August 6.
Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah told The Express Tribune by phone from Karachi that Water and Power Minister Khawaja Asif contacted him on Friday to seek the PPP’s support for the government’s candidate.
“I told Khawaja Sahib that the PPP has nominated Raza Rabbani for the slot and believes he is more suitable than anyone else ... Instead I suggested the PML-N support Rabbani if they want a consensus candidate for the office of president,” he said. He added that the PPP would also approach other opposition parties to garner support for Rabbani.
After PML-N, the PPP has the largest numerical strength in the lower of Parliament. In addition to that, the party also holds majority in the Senate and Sindh Assembly, which are part of the Electoral College for the presidential election.
Despite this, the PPP cannot guarantee success for its candidate without the support of other opposition parties, since it is heavily outnumbered by the PML-N in both the National and Punjab assemblies.
Meanwhile, the PTI has named Justice (retd) Wajiuddin Siddiqui as its candidate for the president. Justice Siddiqui collected his nomination papers on Friday. The party said in a statement on Saturday that the decision was taken by its senior leadership after thorough consultations. It stated that the leadership of both the PML-N and PPP had approached the party to support a joint candidate.
In particular, it mentioned that opposition leader Khursheed Shah met PTI deputy parliamentary leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi and suggested the parties could field a candidate not affiliated with any political party. However, the PTI leaders had consensus on fielding their own candidate.
Separately, PML-Q has named Balochistan-based Senator Saeedul Hassan Mandokhail as its candidate for the presidency.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2013.