LFO deal, PML row to affect Senate poll
By Irfan Ali
KARACHI: Wednesday’s government-MMA deal and the Muslim League’s infighting in Sindh will play a key role in the by-election for the Senate seat from the province on January 10, political sources said on Friday.
The seat fell vacant following the death of Maulana Shah Ahmed Noorani, the president of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, who had been elected senator with the votes from the MPAs of the PPP, which is an ideological opponent of the MMA. Hashim Siddiqui and Shabbir Abu Talib from the MMA’s component JUP filed nomination papers for the by-election.
It is not an easy ride. Seventy members of the joint opposition face 98 members of the treasury in the 168-member assembly. Political sources familiar with electoral politics said the candidate could not rely solely on the party MPAs’ votes but has to please all voters, including MPA from rival parties.
The PPP (Parliamentarians) seems to have lost the Senate’s bye-election because its Dr Karim Khuwaja and Umer Jat, who filed nominations, are not considered much influential- and wealthy-enough contenders in the prestigious bye-election. The party leadership has foreseen defeat, according to PPP insiders.
The PML’s candidates hailed from defunct the Quaid-e-Azam group. Maqbool Shaikh, brother of Sindh population welfare minister Imtiaz Shaikh, is relatively close to party chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain than others. Sahibzada Munir’s nomination papers were rejected for his not producing a bachelor’s degree. Shahabuddin Shah Hussaini is close to Chief Minister Ali Mohammad Maher.
Although the final PML candidate is yet to be decided, the MMA leadership could seek government support for its candidate in view of its “agreement on the LFO” with the government.
A seasoned Muslim Leaguer said Jamaat-e-Islami vice president Ghafoor Ahmed was elected senator with the help of votes from the PML and chances of such adjustment in Sindh could not be ruled out.
Four persons from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement also filed nomination but political pundits believe they would be just like a “bargaining chip” for the party of 41 MPAs. But MQM is in a position to exert pressure on Islamabad and the chief minister to support its candidate.
The defunct Functional Group and Patriots group are least interested in the senate’s election on one vacant seat because they don’t own any of the candidates. However, the National Alliance’s Javed Jabbar could be an alternate choice for the coalition partners to avoid intra-coalition tussle if the MMA and the government don’t make adjustment.