PTI banks on Pervaiz Elahi for Senate poll smooth sailing

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has given the task of supervising the Senate elections process in the province to Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q) leader and Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi.

A senior PTI leader told The Express Tribune that the PTI leadership has approached Elahi in an effort to have a smooth sailing for its candidates contesting the upcoming the Senate elections from Punjab.

The PTI has offered one seat to the PML-Q in the Senate. At present, the PML-Q has around 10 seats. Above 40 votes are required to elect one senator in the Punjab Assembly.

It is also learnt that Elahi will contact the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) leadership to evolve mechanism wherein every party’s candidates could be elected without going for a vote in the Punjab Assembly.

The federal government has already filed a presidential reference in the Supreme Court for holding the Senate elections through open ballot by amending the Election Act 2017.

However, opposition parties as well as the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) opposed the government’s plan and stated that the open ballot method could not be adopted in the Senate elections without amending the Constitution.

The matter is still pending in the apex court. The PTI government says that the main purpose of holding the Senate elections through open ballot is to ensure transparency in the election.

However, political analysts believe that one of the main reasons to file the presidential reference is to avoid possible defections in the PTI as many of its MPAs are unhappy because they have been deprived of development projects in their respective constituencies.

Likewise, they have reservations with some of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s advisers/special assistants. To vent their anger, many MPAs may opt to give vote to the opponent parties’ candidates.

Keeping in view of these reasons, the ruling party may face a tough time in the Senate elections.

A member of the cabinet disclosed that all the tickets in the Senate elections will be given by PM Imran Khan himself.

He also informed that the prime minister is considering to give tickets to those who are affiliated with the party since long. He claims that even two advisers, who belong to the legal fraternity, are still not under consideration for awarding the party ticket in the upcoming Senate elections.

During the PTI parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday, MNA Raja Riaz suggested that PTI senior leader Jahangir Khan Tareen should be appointed chairman of the party board to short list candidates for the Senate elections. However, it is learnt that no one endorsed his suggestion.

Political analysts believe that the Chaudhrys have a crucial role to play in Pakistan politics. They have been maintaining a cordial relation with both the government and the opposition.

Although there were ups and downs in their relationship with PM Imran Khan during the last two years, the premier visited their residence a couple of months ago. Chaudhrys are also successful in getting development funds for their respective constituencies.

(This story has been published from The Express Tribune feed, without modifications to the text)