KARACHI: The alleged defection of two Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf lawmakers is going to hurt the joint opposition in the Sindh Assembly that has fielded five candidates for the Senate election, polling for which is going to be held today (Wednesday).

The ruling Pakistan Peoples Party has fielded 11 candidates on all 11 Senate seats — seven general and two each reserved for technocrats and women — in disproportion to its 99-lawmaker strength in the 168-strong house.

The joint opposition, which comprises PTI, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and Grand Democratic Alliance, has jointly nominated five candidates — three on general seats and one each on technocrat and women reserved seats — in view of its total strength ie 65 in the house.

Sindh Assembly members, along with their peers in other legislatures, will cast their votes in upper house election today

The PTI is the largest opposition party in the Sindh Assembly and the number of its MPAs is 30 followed by 21 lawmakers of the MQM-P and 14 of the GDA. Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan with three lawmakers and Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal with one MPA are also opposition parties but they are not part of the joint opposition’s three-party alliance.

Twenty-four votes are required for winning one general seat and 56 votes are needed for a reserved seat.

Prior to the alleged defection of PTI lawmakers Sheharyar Shar and Aslam Abro, it was safe to predict PPP’s victory on six Senate seats — four general seats and one reserved seat each for technocrats and women — and the opposition alliance’s success on five seats including three general and one reserved seat each.

Mr Shar and Mr Abro have made it clear that they would not vote for PTI’s candidates.

Sources said that the opposition’s victory on one of the three general seats would become very difficult if the three MPAs voted against the advice of their party. And their chances of winning remaining seats would also become thin if any more MPAs fell prey to horse trading, they added.

“We were 65 ... now we are 63,” said an opposition leader. “If the two or more opposition MPAs vote for PPP candidates, it will increase their preference votes [on general seats] thus affecting our chances,” he said.

17 vying for 11 Senate seats

Seventeen candidates are in the run for 11 Senate seats in Sindh. The Election Commission of Pakistan has finalised all arrangements for polling scheduled to be held today in the Sindh Assembly.

Of the total 17 candidates, the PPP’s seven candidates on as many general seats are Sherry Rehman, Taj Haider, Saleem Mandviwalla, Jam Mahtab Hussain Dahar, Shahadat Awan, Sadiq Memon and Dost Ali Jessar.

Joint opposition’s three candidates on general seats are Faisal Vawda (PTI), Faisal Subzwari (MQM-P) and Pir Sadruddin Shah (GDA).

Barrister Farooq H. Naek and Karim Ahmed Khawaja of PPP are in the run for two technocrat seats against opposition’s Saifullah Abro (PTI). A fourth candidate, Yasha Ullah Khan Afghan — on technocrat seat is also in the run. He is fielded by the opposition TLP.

Palwasha Khan and Rukhsana Parveen of the PPP are contesting the election on two women-reserved seats against opposition’s Khalida Ateeb (MQM-P).

Published in Dawn, March 3rd, 2021

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