Islamabad: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has invited the heads of all political parties for a luncheon meeting today (Tuesday).
During the meeting, matters relating to the election of Senate Chairman and Deputy will come under discussion, said a statement issued from the PM Office here on Monday.
The luncheon meeting comes as politicking was in full swing to elect a Chairman and Deputy Chairman for the Upper House of Parliament.
Late on Monday, leaders of the opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) – the largest party in the Senate with 27 members – announced that it had succeeded in convincing the Awami National Party (ANP), the Pakistan Muslim League-Q and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) to support their candidate, Senator Raza Rabbani, for the Chairman Senate slot.
ANP chief Asfandyar Wali claimed he had the further support of four Senators from FATA to back Rabbani’s candidacy for chairman Senate.
With the backing of the opposition Senators, the PPP candidate is expected to get at least 47 votes in the election. A candidate requires at least 48 votes to be elected as Chairman in Parliament’s Upper House.
The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was making last ditch efforts late Monday night in a bid to garner support for their candidate, which it has yet to announce.
The PML-N emerged the top party in last week’s Senate elections, but fell just one short of the PPP’s 27 seats.
PML-N leader Khawaja Saad Rafique held meetings with MQM leaders twice on Monday, urging the party to reconsider their decision to back the PPP candidate.
The MQM has accepted the PM’s invitation for the luncheon meeting and says it will make a decision keeping in mind “the best interests of the country”.
Meanwhile, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman – whose party is still undecided on which candidate to support – is expected to hold a one-on-one meeting with the Prime Minister Sharif on Tuesday.
Fazl will later also participate in the luncheon meeting.
The JUI-F chief said that his party is a member of the ruling coalition government, but that he will announce a decision after meeting the prime minister and consulting with his party leaders today.
On the other hand, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has already announced that it will not support candidates of either the PML-N or the PPP for Senate chairman.
In a statement issued on Monday, the PTI will not to become a part of the government’s ‘politics of settlement’ by attending the PM’s luncheon invitation.
“Chairman Imran Khan has decided that neither he nor any PTI members would attend the luncheon,” said a spokesman for the PTI chief.