Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday nominated Senator Mirza Mohammad Afridi for the post of the Senate deputy chairman, a day before the election for the two top offices of the upper house is set to take place.
The announcement was made by federal Information Minister Shibli Faraz on Twitter.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan has nominated Senator Mirza Mohammad Afridi for deputy chairman slot, giving representation to [an] ex-Fata (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) PTI member,” he wrote.
Afridi was elected to the Senate in the March 2018 elections as an independent candidate from Fata on a general seat.
A source close to the prime minister had earlier told Dawn that four names were being considered for the office of the Senate deputy chairperson as the ruling coalition’s candidate: Saifullah Niazi, Ijaz Chaudhry, Mirza Mohammad Afridi and Aun Abbas Bappi.
“The government has intentionally kept open the candidature of deputy chairman to attract not only the partners in the ruling coalition but also the opposition parties for bargaining on the matter,” the source explained.
The contest for the Senate chairman and deputy chairman seems to be tough for the government as the opposition enjoys a majority in the upper house of parliament. It is impossible for the government to win the polls unless some opposition members either vote for the government’s candidates or waste their votes during the secret ballot on March 12.
The Pakistan Democratic Movement has fielded Yousuf Raza Gilani of the PPP and Abdul Ghafoor Haideri of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl as joint candidates of the opposition for the election of chairman and deputy chairman of the Senate.
The ruling party, meanwhile, once again chose Sadiq Sanjrani, the current Senate chairman, to contest the election for chairmanship of the upper house as its candidate.
Senate elections are held for half of the members after every three years. A senator is elected for a period of six years, while the term of the chairperson and deputy chairperson is three years.