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ISLAMABAD: Senator Sherry Rehman submits her nomination for the post of the leader of the opposition in the Senate to Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani on Thursday.—INP
ISLAMABAD: Senator Sherry Rehman submits her nomination for the post of the leader of the opposition in the Senate to Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani on Thursday.—INP

ISLAMABAD / KARACHI: After getting its candidates elected as Senate chairman and deputy chairman, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is now set to occupy the office of the opposition leader as its nominee Sherry Rehman on Thursday submitted her nomination papers supported by 33 members to Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani.

Talking to Dawn after meeting Mr Sanjrani with Deputy Chairman of the Senate Saleem Mandviwalla and other PPP members, Ms Rehman claimed that she had submitted a list of the opposition members who had put their signatures on her nomination papers for the office of the opposition leader, the position that was previously held by her party colleague Aitzaz Ahsan.

She said that except for the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), the members of all other opposition parties and independent senators had endorsed her nomination as the new leader of the opposition in the upper house of parliament. She, however, claimed that the two members of the JI had also assured her of their support and they could not sign the document as they were attending a party event in Mansoora, Lahore.

According to Ms Rehman, besides 21 senators from her own party, she was being supported by six independents from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, four independents from Balochistan and one member each from the Balochistan National Party-Mengal and the Awami National Party.

MQM-P Bahadurabad to support PTI candidate for the office

The other contender for the opposition leader’s office is the PTI, which had supported the PPP’s candidate for the office of the deputy chairman on Monday.

While Ms Rehman has submitted her nomination papers, the PTI is yet to nominate its candidate for the office.

The announcement of Ms Rehman’s nomination had been made by PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari through his official page on Twitter, expressing the hope that Ms Rehman would become the first woman to hold the office of opposition leader in the Senate.

“(The) PPP (is) ready to make history again. We nominate Senator Sherry Rehman for the position of Leader of Opposition. Insha Allah she will be the first woman to lead the opposition in the Senate,” Mr Bhutto-Zardari had stated in his Tweet.

Earlier, slain PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto had served as leader of the opposition in the National Assembly during the two previous PML-N governments in the 1990s.

Ms Rehman’s nomination appears to be confirmed as the PTI’s nominee could get the support of maximum of 20 members — including 13 from its own party, five of the MQM-P and two from the JI.

Meanwhile, in Karachi, common stance against the PPP brought political rivals PTI and a faction of the MQM-P close to each other as the latter announced on Thursday that it would support the former’s nominee for the office of the opposition leader in the Senate.

Talking to reporters after a meeting, leaders of the MQM-P’s Bahadurabad group and the PTI announced their agreement for the office of the opposition leader in the Senate.

A delegation of the PTI led by Imran Ismail visited the MQM-P’s Bahadurabad office to hold the meeting with its leaders.

“The PPP has ruined Sindh during its past 10-year rule in the province,” said Faisal Subzwari of the MQM-P while justifying his party’s decision to support the PTI’s nominee for the opposition leader’s office in the Senate.

“The people of Sindh from Kashmore to Karachi have suffered due to corruption and bad governance of the PPP. So we have decided not to vote for the PPP’s nominee and support the PTI’s candidate.

Almost same views were expressed by the PTI’s Ismail. He called the development a welcome gesture from the two parties for democratic culture in the country.

“The PTI is expected to announce its nominee tomorrow [Friday] and we expect that the parties we are approaching would show the same gesture like the MQM-P to keep the democratic culture alive,” he said.

Published in Dawn, March 16th, 2018