Senate chairperson: Is Bizenjo a ‘compromise candidate’?

Capital is abuzz with rumours that PML-N, PPP have picked Bizenjo as a ‘compromise candidate’ for the coveted slot

Abdul Manan March 08, 2015
Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo.

ISLAMABAD: The two biggest winners of Thursday’s Senate elections – the PPP and PML-N – have kicked off their campaigns to enlist support of smaller groups for the election of Senate chairman, but the capital is abuzz with rumours that the two parties have picked Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo as a ‘compromise candidate’ for the coveted slot.

Neither of the two parties has the required numerical strength in the upper house of parliament to elect the chairman and his deputy from amongst its ranks. Realising this, the two parties have started contacting smaller parties, especially the MQM and JUI-F, which have eight and five members, respectively, in the house.

According to senior leaders of the two parties, the situation is still fluid. “Bizenjo is the new twist in PML-N’s plot, while the PPP, by picking up Senator Rubina Khalid for the slot of deputy chairperson, wants to augment its image as a women-friendly and liberal party,” one leader said.

The PPP has convened a meeting of its allies in the Senate on Monday while Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has tasked Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to contact heads of all political parties for support.

Information Minister Senator Pervaiz Rashid said the PML-N has yet not finalised its nominees for the slots of chairman and deputy chairman. “Names will be finalised after consultation with all political parties,” he told The Express Tribune.

Senator Dar telephoned Senator Bizenjo of the National Party and Asfandyar Wali of ANP on Saturday. In the meanwhile, Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique contacted the MQM and Senator Rashid approached Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Sirajul Haq. Sources in the PML-N said the party leadership has deliberately leaked Senator Bizenjo’s name for the chairman’s slot for a variety of reasons.

Currently, there are three political alliances in the 104-member house.

The PPP has the support of 41 senators: 27 of its own, seven of ANP, four of PML-Q, two of Balochistan National Party and one independent senator-elect Yousaf Badini. However, one ANP Senator Azam Khan Hoti might not turn up on March 12 to vote in the election of the Senate’s top posts. So, the PPP’s total strength is 40.

On the other hand, the PML-N enjoys the backing of 33 senators: 26 of its own, three each of NP and PkMAP of Mehmood Khan Achakzai, and one of PML-F of Pir Pagara. Two of PML-N senators face legal challenges against their nominations – which shows the net support of the party at 31 senators.

The PTI-led alliance has seven senators: seven of its own and one of JI. The party has, however, decided not to vote for either the PPP or the PML-N nominee.

Since election for four Fata senators has been postponed while two senators-elect face legal challenges against their nominations, for the PPP and PML-N the total voters for election of chairman and his deputy are 91 – and they need the support of 46 members to get their nominees elected.

Though the two parties have started wooing smaller parties to muster the required numerical strength, sources said they might go for a compromise instead of giving concessions to others, especially the MQM and JUI-F. However such a decision, sources said, would depend on political maneuvers of the next couple of days.

According to sources, the PPP and PML-N are seriously considering the name of Senator Bizenjo as a ‘compromise candidate’ for chairman, should they decide to go together. The PML-N has no issue with the PPP pitching in Senator Robina Khalid for the slot of deputy chairperson.

Similarly, Asif Zardari could also convince his party that since Bizenjo was not a PML-N senator and belonged to a small party of the backward province, the PPP should vote for him.

Sources said that the choice of Senator Bizenjo could also force PTI chairman Imran Khan to change his mind as he said that his party’s senators would not vote for a PPP or PML-N man. Senator Bizenjo said he was not aware that his name was being considered for the slot. However, he added that if asked, he would be ready to serve as Senate chairman.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2015.


oBSERVER | 6 years ago | Reply Senate Chairman is supposed be a neutral person but this heckling over selection leaves the entire process exposed shamefully.
shahid Kinnare | 6 years ago | Reply @andan Siddiqi Rawalpindi parties have always tried show how humble they are, but after they accomplish their objective they have always killed Pakistani politician to start with Nawab of Kalabagh who was killed by Field Marshall Ayub Khan. Just to make clear their is no difference between PTI, PMLN, and Rawalpindi.
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