Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) general secretary Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri on Tuesday rejected the government's offer of Senate deputy chairmanship and condemned "in the strongest words" Defence Minister Pervez Khattak's statement in front of the media without discussing it in a meeting beforehand.
While talking to reporters alongside Haideri and Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani after a meeting today, Khattak said "we have invited [Haideri] to come and be the deputy [Senate chairman]."
"It will be beneficial for him and everyone," the minister added.
At the time, Haideri said that he had come to meet the Senate chairman which was something he does as a matter of routine.
However, in a statement issued later, the JUI-F leader said that "no such discussion" regarding the Senate deputy chairmanship had taken place in the meeting earlier, in which members of all political parties were present.
"Pervez Khattak talked in front of the media after the meeting. I condemn in the strongest words such talk by the minister in front of the media," he added.
Haideri said that an offer by a government, which the opposition does not recognise, was "meaningless".
Talking about the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), the 11-party opposition alliance of which JUI-F is a member, he said that the party was bound by any decision that the alliance takes.
"PDM is completely united and in consensus," he stressed. "The government is using delaying tactics to save its sinking ship," he claimed.
When asked by a reporter whether the PDM had nominated him for deputy chairman of the upper house of parliament, Haideri replied that he had not been made aware of any such development.
The JUI-F leader was also asked whether he saw Sanjrani remaining the Senate chairman after the election this week, to which he responded that he "does not know who will be the chairman after March 12 but Sadiq Sanjrani is our chairman right now".
Last week, Prime Minister Imran Khan had named Sanjrani as the government's candidate for the Senate chairman's office while on Monday, the PDM named PPP's Yousuf Raza Gilani as the opposition's joint candidate.
Meanwhile, a PDM committee met today to decide on the names of the alliance's candidates for the Senate deputy chairman's office as well as the leader of the opposition in the upper house of parliament.
According to PDM information secretary Mian Iftikhar Hussain, it was decided that the candidate for Senate deputy chairman would be from JUI-F while the leader of the opposition would be from the PML-N.
Shortly afterwards, spokesperson for JUI-F, Aslam Ghauri, confirmed that Maulana Haideri would contest the election for the deputy chairman's office as a joint candidate of the opposition.
"[PDM President and JUI-F chief] Maulana Fazlur Rehman has approved Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri's name for deputy chairman," he said, adding that those who wanted to create chaos within the PDM would fail.
"PDM candidates will succeed. PDM will achieve full success," the spokesperson claimed.
The PTI has so far not announced its candidate for the office of deputy chairman, keeping the slot open and placing itself in a better bargaining position to ensure the support of its allies and independent candidates.
Presiding over a meeting of his spokespersons on Monday, the prime minister vowed to win the chairman’s post despite the opposition’s majority in the upper house.
Following the March 3 elections, the government, its allies and five independent senators have a combined strength of 48 in the upper house while the opposition has 51 senators.