Muhammad Saleh Zaafir
ISLAMABAD: The ruling alliance has decided to bring in Chairman Senate Farooq H Naek as the new federal law and parliamentary affairs minister in place of Senator Maula Bux Chandio.
Naek is being brought in to deal with the complex constitutional scenario that may emerge sometime in the next few months. Senator Farhatullah Babar has been tipped as the favourite replacement for the slot while Senator Raza Rabbani and Interior Minister Rehman Malik are also being considered for the office.
Senator Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan could be leader of the House while current leader of the House Senator Syed Nayyar Hussain Bukhari could be Chief Whip in the Senate since both offices enjoy the status and perks of federal minister. Barrister Ahsan is likely to have an important meeting with the leadership of the ruling party within 24 hours here and in case he agrees to accept the office of Chairman Senate, he would be the choice of the ruling alliance; otherwise, Senator Babar could get the top office of the upper house.
Chairman Farook H Naek has already been informed about the decision of the alliance pertaining to the change in his assignment.Parliamentary sources told The News that the federal cabinet would experience a major reshuffle later this month in the wake of the new shape of the Senate and by-elections on six seats of the National Assembly last month. Some important ministers will have to give way to new faces while three to four federal ministers will have to swap their portfolios. The ministers who will be experiencing change in responsibilities have been sounded out by the leadership. At least four ministers of state (MOS) will be added to the cabinet.
The ruling alliance is engaged in ‘in-house’ discussion to accommodate aspirants of important slots on one end while it is also in communication with some opposition parliamentary groups to soften them on the other.
The office of the deputy chairman of Senate is also being used as a bargaining chip with the opposition since the Jamiat Ulmai Islam (JUI) of Maulana Fazlur Rehman is aspiring for the office for its member from Balochistan Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haidri who is official leader of the opposition in the House since June last. In case the deal is done, parliamentary groups of the coalition partners would be satisfied through other methods.
The Awami National Party (ANP) has already launched its candidate for the office of the deputy chairman Senate and has designated Daud Khan Achakzaie, an advocate from Balochistan, who has recently been elected but lacks adequate experience. He is a Pakhtun from that province while the incumbent Mir Jan Muhammad Khan Jamali is a Baloch who is retiring Sunday next. The Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q) wants Senator Ms. Rubina Irfan but Senator Humayun Khan Mandokhail, an independent member, could be adopted by the PML-Q provided the ruling alliance nominates him for the slot of the deputy chairman. The Pakhtuns of Balochistan are contesting that the governor, chief minister and Speaker of the provincial assembly are all Baloch but no Pakhtun has any important provincial slot. For this reason some Pakhtun must be accommodated as deputy chairman Senate. Another Baloch, Mir Israrullah Zehri, who is a sitting federal minister is willing to become deputy chairman but lacks adequate support for the purpose.
There are five candidates in the run for the office of the deputy chairman Senate, sources said. The chairmanship of the standing committees of the Senate and chief whip of the ruling alliance are the other positions that all partners in the ruling alliance have their eyes on, the sources added.