Nawaz hopeful of securing top slot in Upper House

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was a majority party in Senate and it had the right to field its candidate for the slot of the chairman.

Talking to reporters after appearing before the accountability court here, Nawaz said in case PPP fields Raza Rabbani as candidate for the slot of chairman, the PML-N would support him since he meets the overall criteria. “And if PPP’s leadership does not want to field Rubbani as candidate for Senate chairman, we will find someone from our own fold,” he said, adding that he was already in touch with Mehmood Khan Achakzai, Hasil Bizenjo and Maulana Fazlur Rehman over the matter.

To a question, he said there would be chances of horse-trading for election of chairman and deputy chairman of the Upper House. “We want a strong person for the slot of chairman who must be sincere to the country as well as to the democratic system,” he said. The former premier said the change of chief minister in Balochistan before the Senate polls was no more a secret to anyone and an evident proof of horse-trading. He also called for legislation to curb the unlawful practice of trading the ballots.

We are ready to hold talks with the [affected] political parties for legislation on the issue,” he underscored.

Responding to questions regarding Wednesday’s meeting between the JUI-F leader and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, Nawaz said Fazlur Rehman was an equally good friend of the PML-N hence the party may earn his support.

Regarding the on-going cases against him, Nawaz said these are part of a ‘grand design’ as it has been six months since corruption references were filed but charges have yet to be proved. Nawaz claimed he was disqualified on flimsy grounds, adding that there was no proof of any wrongdoing against him.

Separately, the PML-N has claimed that it has enough majority in the Senate to appoint its own chairman and the deputy chairman.

During a PML-N meeting chaired by Nawaz Sharif, reports on efforts to gain support of other political parties for elections of the top slots in Upper House were presented by Kh Saad Rafique, Mushahidullah Khan, Ayaz Sadiq and Musahid Hussain.

Speaking to the media following the meeting, Saad said the party had yet not decided on candidates for the top posts.

Published in Daily Times, March 9th 2018.