ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stepped up the campaign for Mamnoon Hussain, the PML-N nominee for the presidential election, on Thursday. He received a delegation of Fata senators at his office and sought their support for Mr Hussain.
An official handout stated that they had discussed the overall political situation in the country, but a PML-N source said the prime minister urged the lawmakers to vote for Mr Hussain.
The delegation of senators consisted of Abbas Khan Afridi, Engineer Malik Rashid Ahmed, Haji Khan Afridi, Hidayatullah, Hilal-ur-Rehman, Malik Najamul Hassan, Mohammad Idrees Khan and Mohammad Saleh Shah.
The prime minister also held a meting with JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and sought his support for the PML-N’s presidential candidate. Mr Sharif said the office of the president represented the federation and that was why his party had chosen a non-controversial figure from a smaller province with an objective to strengthen the federation.
He said the PML-N was trying to win the support of all political parties for Mamnoon Hussain.
Maulana Ghafoor Haidri and Akram Khan Durrani, leaders of the JUI-F, attended the meeting. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar was also present.
The JUI-F said in a statement that the party would discuss Mr Sharif’s request with its leaders before taking a decision. But it said the JUI-F chief had conveyed his displeasure to the PML-N for not consulting him before finalising the name of Mr Hussain. “Had the JUI-F been consulted, it would have suggested a suitable name,” Maulana Fazl was quoted as saying in the statement.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Sharif had held a meeting with PML-N’s Balochistan president Sardar Sanaullah Khan Zehri and the Minister for States and Frontier Regions, retired Lt Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch, and discussed the election strategy.
According to a PML-N leader, the prime minister directed them to keep an eye on provincial lawmakers in the treasury and make sure that they voted for the party candidate.
The PML-N, National Party and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party are coalition partners in Balochistan, whose assembly carries special importance in the presidential election.
The electoral college comprises 342 members of the National Assembly, 104 of the Senate, 371 of Punjab Assembly, 168 of Sindh Assembly, 124 of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly and 65 of Balochistan Assembly. Since the Balochistan Assembly is the smallest house with 65 members, votes in the three other provincial assemblies are to be divided by 65. This means 5.7 MPAs of Punjab, 2.58 of Sindh and 1.9 of KP will be equivalent to one vote.
On the other hand, one-member-one-vote formula is applied to the National Assembly, Senate and Balochistan Assembly.
Hence the 65 members of the Balochistan Assembly will play a crucial role in the presidential election. Its lawmakers are traditionally known for changing sides. In the 2008 elections, the PML-Q had emerged as the single largest party in the provincial assembly, but the post of chief minister went to the PPP.
“The PML-N enjoys sufficient majority in the electoral college, but even then we don’t want to take any risk and that’s why Mr Sharif has directed Sanaullah Zehri and Qadir Baloch to keep their eyes open,” said a senior party leader privy to the meeting.