Ex-Pakistan PM Yousuf Raza Gilani poised to become Senate chairman; submits nomination papers

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Former Pakistan prime minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, who is tipped to become the chairman of the Senate, has submitted his nomination papers to contest the election to be held on Friday, according to a media report on Monday. Gilani, who won the February 8 election to the National Assembly from Multan in Punjab province has vacated his seat and will contest for a Senate seat from Islamabad.

Gilani, who took oath as a member of the lower house on February 29, voted for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif during the election to elect the prime minister in the National Assembly on Sunday. The 71-year-old is tipped to become the next Senate chairman, according to a power-sharing formula agreed between the PPP and PML-N, the Dawn newspaper reported.

The veteran Pakistan Peoples Party leader, who served as the country’s prime minister from 2008 to 2012, will be facing Chaudhry Ilyas Mehrban of jailed former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party in a one-on-one contest for the Senate seat, polling for which would be held in the National Assembly on March 14, the report said. Mehrban will be the candidate of the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) since the PTI is not represented in the National Assembly as Khan’s party could not contest the elections.

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A total of 19 other candidates from different political parties are in the fray for the five other Senate seats – three from Balochistan and two from Sindh – which fell vacant after the election of the members of the upper house of parliament to the National and provincial assemblies. The deadline set by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for submission of nomination papers ended on Sunday, the Dawn reported.

The Senate seats have fallen vacant under Article 223 of the Constitution that bars double membership, the report said. Even though there has been no official announcement regarding Gilani as the candidate of the newly-formed eight-party ruling coalition for the top Senate position, the fact that no one from the PML-N submitted papers to contest against him gives credence to such reports, it said.

The PML-N has a clear majority in the National Assembly, where polling would take place for the election on the Senate seat from Islamabad and, therefore, could have easily won the seat. Mehrban had earlier contested for the National Assembly seat from Islamabad in the 2013 elections, which he lost to PML-N’s Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry.