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Senate Elections: Chaudhry Parvez Elahi to play pivotal role in Punjab

Prime Minister Imran Khan has tasked Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi with playing a pivotal role in clinching maximum seats in the Senate from Punjab, reported Dawn. What will PML-Q get in return?

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Prime Minister Imran Khan has tasked Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi with playing a pivotal role in clinching maximum seats in the Senate from Punjab, reported Dawn.  The senior PML-Q leader is part of a three-member committee of the ruling coalition in the province. Its other members are Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and Governor Chaudhry Sarwar. The committee will devise a joint strategy for the success of the coalition’s nominees in the Senate election due to be held in March.

The decision was taken in a meeting between the delegations of both coalition partners in Islamabad on Monday that was chaired by Prime Minister Khan. The PML-Q delegation comprised Mr Elahi, federal minister Tariq Basheer Cheema and MNA Moonis Elahi, while federal ministers Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Pervaiz Khattak and Shafqat Mehmood assisted the prime minister in the meeting.

Though the PML-Q only has 10 seats in the Punjab Assembly and five in National Assembly, but it has an important place in the current political scenario, which is why the PTI leadership has decided to accommodate the Q’s wish of having its nominee in the Upper House of parliament as well as benefiting from Mr Elahi’s experience in Punjab’s politics, analysts remarked.

The prime minister has also formed a committee for forthcoming Senate polls. Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, Governor Punjab Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar and Speaker Punjab Assembly Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, according to sources.

Furthermore, the premier will soon visit Lahore to inaugurate the new building of the Punjab Assembly. Speaking on the occasion, the prime minister said that government will devise a strategy for upcoming Senate polls with the consultation of its allies.

Criticizing Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan on Monday said that both the parties had agreed upon holding Senate polls through the open ballot in the Charter of Democracy (CoD).

The term-wise data of the senators shows that out of the 52 members retiring from the present 103-member Senate in March next year, 34 belong to the opposition parties and 18 from the treasury benches.

The total strength of the Senate is 104, but former finance minister of the PML-N Ishaq Dar has not taken oath as a senator since he has been living in self-exile in London along with former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

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The PML-N will be the biggest loser in terms of representation in the Senate as 57 percent of its members — the largest number belonging to a single party — are set to retire this March after completion of their six-year term. The data shows that out of its 30 present senators, 17 are set to retire in March next year.

PTI to emerge as the winning party?

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.

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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. “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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