LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and PML-Q have reached an agreement on the upcoming Senate election in the Punjab Assembly while the PPP is still indecisive about shaking hands with these fellow opposition parties.

“Both the PTI and PML-Q have agreed to give second priority votes to each other’s candidate on a seat in general category. On women’s seat, the PML-Q has agreed to give first priority vote to PTI candidate Andleeb Abbas,” a source privy to the agreement between the parties told Dawn on Monday.

PTI has nominated former governor Chaudhry Sarwar, while the Chaudhrys of Gujrat have fielded outgoing senator Kamil Ali Agha for the Senate poll on a general seat in Punjab.

“The PTI and PML-Q leadership have agreed not to withdraw their candidates (in favour of each other) and instead utilise second priority votes in each other’s favour,” the source said, adding both parties had so far failed to rope in PPP. The PPP has fielded former chief minister Mian Manzoor Wattoo’s son-in-law Shahzad Ali Khan for the slot.

Both agree to give second priority vote to each other’s candidate

Kamil Ali Agha told Dawn that although none of the three opposition parties agreed to field a unanimous candidate on the general seat, the PML-Q and PTI had reached some kind of an understanding that would benefit both parties in the Senate polls in Punjab. “Two independent votes and one by Jamaat-i-Islami will also go in favour of the PML-Q candidate,” he said and added efforts were under way to convince the PPP to withdraw its candidate in favour of PML-Q or at least have PPP MPAs give second priority votes to him.

Mr Agha said he had been in touch with a number of ruling party MPAs also. “A good number of PML-N legislators have promised to give me first and second priority votes... that will surprise their leadership.”

PPP Punjab Secretary General Chaudhry Manzoor said there were chances that its candidate (Shahzad Khan) would go for a solo flight as both opposition parties were not showing any interest in a unanimous candidate. “The PTI’s attitude is quite stiff towards other opposition parties. We wonder how this party will get along with other political forces to form a coalition government after this year’s election,” he added.

Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembly Mian Mahmoodur Rashid of the PTI hoped that Chaudhry Sarwar would perform well in the Senate election. When asked about reaching an agreement with the PML-Q, he said: “We are in contact with the opposition parties and two independent MPAs and will hopefully garner their support on the polling day,” he said.

The PTI has 31 members, and PML-Q and PPP eight each in the Punjab Assembly. Together with two independent and one JI votes, the opposition has 50 first priority votes. According to Manzoor, the opposition needed 53 first priority votes to secure one Senate seat in general category.

The Senate polls are being held on March 3 to elect 52 members to the House -- 12 each from Punjab and Sindh; 11 each from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, four from Fata and two from Islamabad.

The House comprises 104 members -- 23 each from the four federating units, eight from Fata, and four from Islamabad. The 23 seats allocated to a province comprise 14 general seats, four reserved for women, four for technocrats and one for a minority member.

Published in Dawn, February 13th, 2018