LAHORE: As the Senate Elections takes centre stage in the increasingly polarized national politics, the Punjab Assembly presents a starkly different picture. All candidates for the Senate from Punjab proceeded to the Senate unopposed, giving the two largest parties (the Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf [PTI] from the treasury benches and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz [PML-N] from the opposition benches) representation in the Senate according to their numerical strengths. Punjab Assembly is one of the most contested battlegrounds for the PTI and the PML-N, with the opposition numerically short only by a hair’s breadth. Hence, this surprising consensus on not benefiting from each other’s forward blocs is clearly the result of some backdoor communications. 

According to sources within the Assembly, this masterstroke of political compromise was orchestrated by Chaudhary Pervaiz Elahi, the Speaker of Punjab Assembly and a coalition partner of the incumbent PTI. 

Out of the eleven Senate seats from Punjab, PTI and PML-N would have secured 5 each, leaving a single seat to be won by breaking the other parties MPAs or approaching forward blocs. For this contentious seat, three candidates were expected to contest the polls next month; Hassan Murtaza of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Saira Afzal Tarar (PML-N), Muhammad Khan Madni (PTI). 

However, before the polls, all three candidates withdrew their nomination papers. Instead, the Pakistan Mulsim League-Quaid (PML-Q) was successful in getting its candidate, Kamil Ali Agha, unopposed to the Senate. 

According to sources, Ch Pervaiz Elahi had a telephonic conversation with the former President and Co-Chairperson of the PPP, Asif Ali Zardari, which led to Hassan Murtaza stepping back from the contest. Similarly, contacts through Attaullah Tarar of  PMLN led to the PML-N candidate withdrawing her nomination. The ruling party was convinced by the fact that the PML-Q is an ally of the PTI, but unlike the PTI candidate, the PML-Q candidate would have the political support of the opposition. 

Those elected unopposed on seven general seats of the upper house of parliament are Saifullah Sarwar Khan Nyazee, Aon Abbas and Ejaz Ahmad Chaudhry of the PTI, Afnan Ullah Khan, Prof Sajid Mir and Irfan-ul-Siddiqui of the PML-N and Kamil Ali Agha of the PML-Q.

Dr Zarqa Suharwardy Taimur of the PTI and Saadia Abbasi of the PML-N have been elected unopposed for the two seats reserved for women, and Syed Ali Zafar of the PTI and Azam Nazeer Tarar of the PML-N for the two seats reserved for technocrats/ulema.

The Chaudhary brothers of Gujrat have once more emerged as the powerbrokers in Punjab, aiding its ally, the ruling PTI, in securing enough seats from the province.


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