PML-N leader Mushahidullah Khan claimed on Saturday that his party already has votes that far exceed the required number for election of the new Senate chairman and deputy chairman.

"The good news to come out of all the discussions held so far is that our figure has far exceeded the required number. One group is left with which discussions are still underway. The talks will conclude tonight," he said while talking to reporters in Islamabad.

He said the party will first hold discussions with all its allies and then announce its candidates for the chairman and deputy chairman elections scheduled for March 12.

"That announcement would have been made but Mian Nawaz Sharif has the authority to do so and he will either do the honours tonight from Lahore or from here in Islamabad tomorrow.

"Our figure is now approximately 57-59 [votes] which is a concrete figure. We are not pulling numbers out of thin air like our opposition parties have been for many days now," he remarked.

Reporters, left unsatisfied with the tight-lipped comments, prodded the senator to provide some hint as to which party or province the PML-N-backed candidates will likely belong to.

"Like we have mentioned previously, the chairman and deputy chairman will either be from our party or of our choosing... There is no disagreement between any of the [allied] parties. We have yet to announce the candidates as there is one small hindrance on which deliberations are still underway," came his reply, still hesitant to reveal anything further.

When asked if anything has been decided regarding the appointment of a senator from Fata to the deputy chairman's post, Mushahid said: "We are pondering this decision. There is no commitment so far but since they are undoubtedly important members of the parliament ─ two members from Fata have joined us as well ─ we will consider their proposal carefully and try to reach a decision with them."

MQM-P leader Farooq Sattar, while talking to the media earlier, had claimed that Sharif would be willing to support Raza Rabbani as a candidate if the PPP revises its decision. Asked if that was the reason why no announcement regarding the candidates had been made by the PML-N so far, Mushahid said:

"If Nawaz Sharif said something about an individual, the basis for that was just the fact that he is a pro-democratic, pro-constitution personality who has rendered great services to the nation and a suggestion for an individual was made."

Addressing the suggestion that Rabbani's decisions have always worked out in Sharif's favour, Mushahid retorted by saying, "They have gone in Nawaz Sharif's favour because they are in democracy's favour and because they support the constitution and the upholding of the law."

PTI declares support for Balochistan panel

Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Saturday once again declared wished for a candidate from Balochistan to be the next Senate chairman.

"It would be a huge achievement if the Senate chairman is elected from Balochistan," he said while addressing a press conference alongside Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo.

"We never wanted a Senate chairman from PML-N. They have been trying to take over and normalise the Sharif family's corruption in the country," Khan alleged, confident that the Senate chairman will be elected from the province that he said has been long neglected by the state.

Bizenjo has nominated Anwarul Haq and Sadiq Sinjirani from Balochistan for the post of chairman, while the PTI wishes to see a deputy chairman elected from Fata.

"We brought this jirga to Khan sahib and told him that he has done us a great honour... Naturally if we [Balochistan] take the post of chairman, we are willing to give up the post of deputy chairman [in favour of Fata]," said the Balochistan chief minister.



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