Is Jahangir Tareen meeting PDM leaders to support Yousuf Raza Gilani?

PTI leader Jahangir Tareen has become active ahead of Senate elections as he had made contact with the party’s candidate from Islamabad and Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Jahangir Khan Tareen on Monday denied reports of a meeting between him and PPP leader and Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) candidate from Islamabad seat in Senate elections, Yousuf Raza Gilani.

Jahangir Tareen said that the reports of his meeting or any contact with PPP leader Yousuf Raza Gilani are baseless. “I have always worked for the PTI,” he said adding that he was and will remain part of the party headed by Imran Khan.

It is pertinent to mention here that PTI leader Jahangir Tareen has become active ahead of Senate elections as he had made contact with the party’s candidate from Islamabad and Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and assured him of his complete support on February 18.

According to sources, Hafeez Shaikh who is a PTI candidate on a general seat from Islamabad was approached by Jahangir Tareen today as they discussed matters relating to the Senate polls.

Speaking during the meeting, Tareen said that he had a longstanding relation and friendship with Hafeez Shaikh and the two remain in touch with each other. “Since Hafeez Shaikh is part of my party, I will extend my complete support to him in the upcoming polls,” he said.

According to sources, soon after contact between the two, Jahangir Tareen has made contact with the estranged MNAs from South Punjab and listened to their grievances.

It is pertinent to mention here that a tough one-on-one contest is expected on a general seat from Islamabad between Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) candidate Yousuf Raza Gilani and Abdul Hafeez Shaikh.

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Shaikh is currently appointed as the finance minister in the federal government and had also served at the same post in the tenure of Yousuf Raza Gilani.

PTI to emerge as the winning party?

A total of 52 senators in the house of 104 are set to retire on March 11 on completion of their six-year term. They will also include four of the eight senators from the erstwhile Federally Adminis­tered Tribal Areas (Fata). As the seats representing Fata will not be filled due to merger of the tribal areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in May 2018, the Senate strength will shrink to 100.

Therefore, polling will be held to elect 48 senators — 12 each from KP and Balochistan, 11 each from Punjab and Sindh and two from Islamabad. Polling will be held to elect seven members on general seats, two women and two technocrats in the four provinces. Besides, the election on one minority seat each in KP and Balochistan will also be conducted.

Over 65 per cent of the senators who are set to retire on March 11 after completing their six-year constitutio­nal term belong to the opposition parties.

While the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf senators may double in numbers after the electoral exercise to reach 28 from existing 14, the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz is likely to be the biggest loser in terms of representation in the Senate as 17 of its 29 senators will retire next month and the party would be able to retain just five, taking the total strength to 17.

The Pakistan Peoples Party’s strength in the house will slightly come down from 21 to 19. Among the allies of the ruling party, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement will be the only loser, with its party’s strength slipping down from five to three, while another ally, Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), will emerge stronger, with the number of its senators growing from 10 to 13.

Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, President of the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency, opines that “if the Senate election takes place in March 2021 as scheduled, the PTI is likely to emerge as the largest party in the house, displacing the PML-N from that position”.

It is, however, important to note that the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) has announced to resign from the assemblies. PPP, led by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, is one of the parties rallying against the government. Syed Murad Shah, Chief Minister Sindh, may advise the dissolution of the assembly shortly ahead of the Senate election in March 2021 which may keep an entire province out of the election.

Mehboob writes that “in case this happens, it will be the first time that a province skips the Senate election cycle”. “Since there is no clear and explicit provision in the Constitution and the Elections Act regarding such a situation, the matter may end up in a court of law for resolution and interpretation of the Constitution,” he continued.

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“This may become necessary also because fresh election of the chair and deputy chair of the Senate has to take place immediately after the March 2021 election and the absence of half the representation of a province may significantly impact the outcome of these elections,” he concluded.

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