Monday Mar 22, 2021
ISLAMABAD: The PPP and PML-N have claimed the prized slot of Senate Opposition leader in a sign of widening differences among the major Opposition parties, it emerged Sunday.
Former prime minister and senior vice president of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said that with 21 senators in the upper house, the PPP was the single largest opposition party in Senate and it believed that, in accordance with the democratic traditions, the slot of opposition leader should be given to it.
He was apparently responding to PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz, who earlier in the day said that the PDM had already decided that the leader of the opposition in Senate would be from the PML-N, and a win or loss in chairman, deputy chairman positions did not count as a factor to revisit that.
In a statement, the PPP leader said the two other most important parliamentary positions -- the opposition leader in the National Assembly and chairman of the Public Accounts Committee -- were being held by the PML-N already.
He said it would be justified that the third important parliamentary position, the leader of the opposition in the Senate, should go to the PPP, the single largest opposition party in the upper house.
Former premier Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said he was also a member of the committee, formed by the party heads of the PDM, to propose the opposition names for the slots of chairman, deputy chairman and the opposition leader in the Senate.
He said he had agreed that the three Senate slots be distributed among the three largest opposition parties in the PDM by proposing candidate of the PPP for chairman slot, the JUI for deputy chairman and the PML-N for the opposition leader.
“However, after manipulation in the elections and denial of the chairmanship to Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani by wrongly rejecting seven votes, cast in his favour, the situation had completely changed,” he said.
Pervaiz Ashraf expressed the hope that the issue of the leader of the opposition in Senate would be settled amicably with consensus among the combined opposition parties in accordance with the established democratic norms and traditions.
Addressing a press conference in Lahore alongside PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Maryam Nawaz had said that victory or defeat in the election for the top Senate slots cannot be a factor for a change in this decision.
Maryam's remarks came as she was asked to respond to whether PML-N's Azam Nazir Tarar and Sadia Abbasi are under consideration for the position or if negotiations will take place over PPP's Yousaf Raza Gillani's nomination.
To this, she said that it was decided "in principle", when PDM leaders met at Shahid Khaqan Abbasi's house, that support for Gillani for Senate chairman, for JUI-F's Abdul Ghafoor Haideri for deputy chairman, and for a PML-N candidate for leader of the opposition will be extended.
She said a win or loss was not discussed as a factor for any change in the decision.
"I am sure [anyone who opposes this] can be made to understand that when a decision in principle is made, there is no need to revisit it," Maryam said.