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PML-N members split over taking part in Pakistan Senate elections

ANI | Updated: Jan 04, 2021 11:25 IST

Lahore [Pakistan], January 4 (ANI): The opposition party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) stands divided on participating in the upcoming Senate polls, with one group supporting the Pakistan Peoples' Party's (PPP) stance of not leaving the field open for the ruling party, while another group has advocated boycotting the contest, seeing a meagre benefit for the party.
The PML-N has so far been calling for tendering resignations from all elected houses and not contesting any polls in an attempt to build pressure on Prime Minister Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) from power corridors, reported Dawn.
However, background interviews with various PML-N elders reveal that some people close to party vice president Maryam Nawaz are vigorously canvassing for contesting the elections for the Upper House of the bicameral parliament likely to be held in the first fortnight of March when six-year term of 52 out of 104 senators is going to expire.
The party had recently suggested that the opposition parties should remain in the field and rather contest by-polls for various seats of provincial assemblies to improve their chances for the Senate elections.
According to Dawn, with its current strength of 165 Members of Provincial Assembly (MPAs) in the Punjab Assembly, the PML-N may win four general seats of the Upper House for Punjab.

Senators Raja Zafarul Haq, Pervaiz Rashid and Mushahidullah Khan are among those members who are retiring after completing their six-year term this March.
PML-N has already accommodated Mushahidullah Khan, Nihal Hashmi and Saleem Zia, all three belonging to Karachi, from the Punjab quota in the previous Senate polls as they had got transferred their votes to Punjab cities, Rawalpindi, Jhelum and Murree, respectively, to be eligible for the electoral bout, while a couple more leaders have got transferred their votes to Punjab for the forthcoming contest, reported Dawn.
On the other hand, people opposing the move argue that the party has not much to lose if it boycotts the Senate elections, adding that even after winning all four general seats from Punjab it will be unable to retain the office of leader of opposition in the Senate.
They have asserted that the party must stick to its principled stance of resigning from all elected houses as part of pressing the Imran Khan government to resign instead of exploring other options.
Earlier, the federal government has decided to hold Senate elections in February instead of March 2021 amid political chaos.
The polls are expected to result in the loss of seats for the Opposition Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), which currently controls the Upper House.
Quashing the government's decision, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on December 21 said that the Senate elections cannot be held in February as half of its members will be retiring on March 11. (ANI)