ISLAMABAD: The opposition parties unanimously nominated on Monday PPP’s Raza Rabbani as their candidate for the office of Senate chairman.
Mr Rabbani’s name was announced by ANP President Asfandyar Wali Khan in the presence of representatives of all opposition parties represented in the Senate after a nearly four-hour meeting at Zardari House.
The name of the candidate for the office of deputy chairman would be announced later, but PML-Q’s Kamil Ali Agha told reporters that they had decided to nominate someone from Balochistan for the post.
Mr Rabbani will be the joint candidate of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Awami National Party (ANP) and Balochistan National Party-Awami (BNP-A).
Asfandyar Wali, talking to reporters, claimed that three sitting Fata senators were also part of the opposition alliance whereas one Fata senator belonged to the JUI-F.
Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the JUI-F chief, attended the meeting for some time, but he was not present at the time of the announcement, indicating that the Maulana still wanted to keep his options open as he was scheduled to have a meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday.
An opposition member said the JUI-F chief had stated that he would make a formal announcement regarding his party’s support for the government or the opposition at a news conference on Tuesday.
A source in the opposition told NNP that the participants had agreed to nominate any senator from Balochistan as the candidate for the deputy chairman’s office, but deferred the announcement till such time as the JUI-F made up its mind to support the government or opposition candidate.
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He said the office could go to the PML-Q, which has two senators — Saeedul Hassan Mandokhel and Rubina Irfan — or the ANP’s Daud Khan Achakzai.
Explaining the reasons for extending support to the PPP’s candidate, MQM’s Dr Farooq Sattar claimed that his party had reached an understanding with the PPP over the local government system and the issue of urban-rural division in Sindh. “We have agreed to set up the local government system as early as possible.”
The MQM leader said that after devolution of most of the subjects to the provinces as a result of 18th Amendment, a new social contract was now needed.