Presidential polls: Sartaj PML-N’s likely choice as hopes for consensus dim

PML-N contacts opposition parties to seek consensus on Justice Siddiqui as last-ditch effort.

Peer Muhammad/abdul Manan July 22, 2013
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaz Aziz, who belongs to K-P, is the frontrunner for the office of President. PHOTO: REUTERS


Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has approached political parties to forge consensus on one of its candidates to run for the presidential elections on August 6.

Sources privy to the development informed The Express Tribune that PML-N’s leadership has decided to develop consensus among political parties on one of its candidates, Justice (retd) Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui, to be elected unanimously. However, they said if the parties were against Siddiqui’s nomination, then PML-N will field Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and National Security, Sartaj Aziz, to contest the presidential elections.

Federal Minister for Water and Power, Khawaja Asif, and other senior leaders have approached both the opposition and PML-N’s allies in the government to develop a consensus on Siddiqui. They argued that the retired judge belonged to no political party and was an independent and neutral jurist who should be accepted as the next president of Pakistan.

PML-N has argued that almost all political parties that announced their candidates were their office bearers. Pakistan Peoples Party has announced Senator Raza Rabbani as its presidential candidate. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has nominated Justice (retd) Wajihuddin and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) has nominated Senator Saeed Mandokhel. PML-N has named three candidates, Sartaj Aziz, former Sindh governor Mamnoon Hussain and Siddiqui.

Sources said Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly, Syed Khursheed Shah of PPP has sought some time from PML-N’s leadership to consult with his party’s leadership on the nominations. Some of PML-N’s leaders who have been involved in negotiations with PTI in the past on issues like the appointment of the chief election commissioner and caretaker prime minister also approached it this time and conveyed the party’s message on Siddiqui as its presidential candidate.

Sources added that Wajihuddin personally was not willing to contest against Siddiqui, but PTI chief Imran Khan has the final say on whether to agree or disagree with PML-N’s candidate.

According to sources, Muttahida Quami Movement will support Siddiqui while none of PML-N’s allies have expressed reservation over his candidacy. Sartaj Aziz will be fielded as PML-N’s candidate if PTI and PPP refuse to support Siddiqui.

However, Mamnoon Hussain will be the covering candidate and not the final one. MQM has reservations over his nomination and even senior PML-N members from Sindh have openly opposed his name.

According to the Election Commission of Pakistan’s schedule, nomination papers will be submitted on July 24 and scrutinised on July 26. The papers can be withdrawn on July 29 when the final list of candidates will also be issued. The election will be held on August 6 and results will be announced the next day.

PPP asks PML-Q to support Rabbani

Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) president Makhdoom Amin Fahim contacted Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain on Sunday, in a bid to convince him to support Raza Rabbani in the presidential elections.

According to sources, Fahim asked Shujaat to withdraw PML-Q candidate Senator Saeedul Hassan Mandokhail from the race for president in favour of the PPP candidate. However, they added, the PML-Q chief told Fahim that it was too early to take a decision in this regard.

Both leaders, meanwhile, agreed to contact each other again over the matter.

When contacted, PML-Q information secretary Senator Kamil Ali Agha said the two parties had earlier decided  to field a joint candidate, but, when PPP announced its candidate without consulting PML-Q, the latter followed suit as well.

“PPP had a good opportunity to field consensus candidate before naming Raza Rabbani as its candidate,” he said. He expressed ignorance regarding the contact between Fahim and Shujaat.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2013.


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