ISLAMABAD – Former President Asif Ali Zardari is optimistic that the Pakistani government led by Tehrik-e-Insaf will give another surprise in the election for Senate chairman today (12 March). The PPP supremo’s close aide told The Nation that Zardari had contacted his allies and told them to “relax” as the Pakistan Democratic Movement had a fair chance of winning the top Senate slot.
Central Punjab PPP president Qamar Zaman Kaira said the PDM candidate has a clear advantage unless there is “fraud.”
“The opposition has more members and must win in fair elections. Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari are liaising with party leaders and allies to ensure PDM victory, “he told The Nation.
Zardari and Bilawal, he said, are optimistic about the PDM victory in the Senate because the opposition has numbers. PDM has nominated newly elected PPP Senator Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani as a joint candidate for the election for the chairman of the Senate while Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) will contest the deputy chairman election as a PDM candidate.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has nominated Sadiq Sanjrani as chairman of the upper house of parliament as a candidate for the ruling party. Senator Mirza Mohammad Afridi is the government’s candidate for the position of deputy chairman of the Senate.
PDM candidate Yousaf Raza Gillani said yesterday that the formation looks neutral and is expected to remain neutral.
Speaking to reporters here, Gillani expressed confidence that the opposition would win the election for the top Senate position and said arrangements had been made to stop the horse trade.
Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) leader Maryam Nawaz, in a tweet, claimed that opposition Senators were being pressured not to vote for PDM candidates in the Senate Chair and Deputy Chair elections. He said that several Senators who received the call had recorded the evidence.
Separately yesterday, PPP leaders Shazia Atta Marri, Faisal Karim Kundi and Abdul Qadir Patel said that opposition senators received threatening phone calls and the government had lost all ethics to succeed in the election of chairman and vice chairman of the Senate.
At a joint press conference here, they said the vote of confidence by the Prime Minister was illegal and unconstitutional. “The Prime Minister is the only one in the race and he is the first,” said Shazia Marri.
He said the PDM had won the election and the numbers and ethics were both in the PDM candidates.
“The Prime Minister must not involve institutions in politics. The government is confused in this election like the Senate election on March 3, “he added.
Faisal Karim Kundi said that elections were won by law and the constitution and not by tactics. “PPP pays close attention to the statement of the Minister of Information, Shibli Faraz. Attempts will be made to harm our members. The government was afraid of Yousuf Raza Gillani because he was a popular Prime Minister (from 2008-12). Even PTI itself doesn’t have a candidate, “he said.
Kundi said the PPP had full trust in its allies and that all of them would vote for the PDM candidate. “We are sure that it is independent and Jamaat-e-Islami will elect a PDM candidate,” he added.
Abdul Qadir Patel said the government plans to impose new taxes on poor people in Pakistan who are already facing record increases in commodity prices and rising electricity bills. “PDM will free the Pakistani people from the tyranny of the PTI,” he argued.
Meanwhile, PPP Chairperson Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar said the election of candidates for chairman and vice chairman of the government Senate shows that PTI is not a political party.
In his statement, Senator Khokhar said that PTI could not maintain any position in the Senate even though it was the largest party in the Senate.
“It is also evident that the PTI is a group of people who belong to very different species. It will be a scene to witness that the Senator of the PTI will vote for someone else’s candidate. Imran Khan does not respect this party but the creators of PTI should respect it, ”he said.
Later, PPP leader Saeed Ghani announced that PPP would take part in the PDM long march and would also celebrate the anniversary of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s death in D-Chowk.
“We will not only take part in the PDM long march but will commemorate Bhutto’s death anniversary here,” he said on a television program.