ISLAMABAD: Amid ongoing tension between two major opposition parties in the National Assembly, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has moved to seek ouster of leader of the opposition in the Senate Sherry Rehman of the Pakistan Peoples Party as PML-N senator Raja Mohammad Zafarul Haq ceases to be the leader of house after the formation of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government at the Centre.

Informed sources told Dawn that the PML-N wanted Senator Haq to replace her.

While Senate Chairman Mohammad Sadiq Sanjrani along with Senate Secretary Amjad Parvez is currently on an official visit to China, the PML-N delivered a request for the ouster of the leader of the opposition at his residence, sources said.

Delivers request at Senate chairman’s residence in his absence

The sources explained that the letter carried signatures of leaders of the PML-N and its allies including the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and the National Party (NP).

However, the sources added, the request was yet to reach the Senate secretariat. It would be processed only after the return of the Senate chairman and secretary on Aug 20.

Sources in the Senate said the office of the leader of the house stood vacated after the formation of a new government but the Senate secretariat had so far not received any nomination from the PTI.

Sources in the PTI tipped Azam Swati as the most likely candidate for the position of leader of the house, while disclosing that Senator Shibli Faraz was being considered for inclusion in the federal cabinet as a minister of commerce or water and power.

Earlier this month, it was reported that the PML-N and the PPP were in talks over the position of opposition leader in the National Assembly.

“The party would ask the PML-N to choose opposition leader in one house of parliament, leaving the other for PPP,” a PPP office-bearer had told Dawn.

PML-N sources, however, insisted the situation had changed following the election of the prime minister. The PML-N would seek the position of opposition leader in both houses of parliament.

Tensions between the two parties escalated following the PPP’s decision to abstain from voting for PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif in the election for the office of prime minister. The opposition had earlier agreed that the PML-N would name a candidate for the office of the prime minister, the PPP would nominate a candidate for the position of NA Speaker and the Muttahida Majli-i-Amal would field its candidate for the slot of NA deputy speaker.

The PPP, however, objected to the candidature of Mr Sharif for the prime minister’s post, citing the reason that he had allegedly used derogatory language against the PPP leadership in the recent past. The PPP requested the PML-N to change its candidate so that the former could vote for their nominee. When it was not done, the PPP abstained from voting for the prime minister’s election.

The PML-N sources said Mr Sharif would seek to get the position of opposition leader in the lower house of parliament while Senator Haq eyed the office of opposition leader in the Senate.

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2018