PPP sets sight on all 12 Senate seats from Sindh as rivals in disarray

Published March 17, 2024
PPP candidate Rubina Qaimkhani submits her nomination papers for a Senate seat on Saturday. Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and other party leaders also present.—PPI
PPP candidate Rubina Qaimkhani submits her nomination papers for a Senate seat on Saturday. Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and other party leaders also present.—PPI

• Murad opines ‘secret ballot’ allows MPAs to vote on their own
• MQM-P endorses Faisal Vawda’s candidature
• Talks with Muttahida possible, says Ghani

KARACHI: While the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) is facing serious issues over distribution of party tickets for the April 2 Senate elections, the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is eyeing on all 12 Senate seats from Sindh, it emerged on Saturday.

Although the PPP does not possess the required number of votes in the provincial assembly to win all 12 Senate seats, it appears that it is banking on the provision of ‘secret ballot’ that puts lawmakers at liberty to exercise their right of franchise on their own, irrespective of their party guidelines.

Talking to reporters at the offices of the Sindh election commissioner after filing nomination papers of his party candidates, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said he was confident that his party would win all 12 seats.

When asked as to why he was so hopeful about his party’s absolute success, he explained that it was a secret ballot and unlike the election of the prime minister and chief minister, MPAs or MNA were not “always bound to vote in favour of their party”.

“Sometimes, they may vote based on their personal preferences [against their party]. In such cases, the party cannot disqualify those members,” he said.

Giving details of his party’s candidates, the CM said that the PPP had submitted nomination papers of nine candidates on general seats, three each for women and technocrats and two for minorities.

He added that the PPP would release the final list of its candidates after the scrutiny of the nomination papers on Monday.

Party position in PA

Based on its numeric strength in the Sindh Assembly, the PPP can easily win nine of the 12 seats — seven general seats, two seats each reserved for women, technocrats and one reserved for minorities.

Its tally could improve substantially if the PPP reached an understanding with smaller groups in the 164-strong house (three members of the Grand Democratic Alliance and one belonging to the Jamaat-i-Islami are yet to take oath). The PPP has 116 MPAs followed by the MQM-P (36), the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-backed Sunni Ittehad Council (nine) and the JI has one member.

While several candidates of the MQM-P have filed nomination papers, its chances to win more than one seats are slim.

On Saturday, former Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) lawmaker Faisal Vawda submitted his nomination papers as an independent candidate, but interestingly, two MQM-P lawmakers had proposed and seconded his candidature.

MQM-P sources feared that some MPAs might vote against Mr Vawda if he was fielded or supported by the party in the Senate election.

Meanwhile, Sindh Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani told reporters that his party had so far made no contact with the MQM-P regarding the Senate elections.

However, the MQM-P said that the final decision was yet to be taken.

“We may talk to Muttahida before the election as dialogue is part of politics,” he told reporters at the offices of the Sindh election commission.

‘Provinces’ share in NFC can be increased’

About the National Finance Commission (NFC) award, the chief minister said that provinces’ share in the next award could only be increased and not decreased as per the Constitution.

When asked to comment on reports about the IMF’s condition to reduce the provinces’ share in the upcoming NFC award, the CM said that he heard about that too. However, the federal government had reportedly informed the IMF that the matters constitutionally settled between the federal and provincial governments could not be negotiated or discussed, he added.

The chief minister said that the 10th NFC award was announced before the passage of 18th Amendment.

“After 18th Amendment, provinces have been given more responsibilities and, therefore, the upcoming NFC award should be made accordingly,” he said.

CM Shah added that the federal government had its own point of view, but these issues would be discussed at the NFC forum.

Replying to a question, Mr Shah said that good police officers were being posted to improve overall law and order in the province.

“Yesterday, we made a reshuffle at the SSP level and other officers will also be changed to improve security situation and governance,” he said.

To another question, the CM added that the PTI approached the IMF and others because it was not thinking about the country but only for their leader.

Sindh Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani told reporters that his party had so far made no contact with the MQM-P regarding the Senate elections.

“We may talk to Muttahida before the election as dialogue is part of politics,” he told reporters at the offices of the Sindh election commission.

Published in Dawn, March 17th, 2024

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