15 independent senators join PML-N, Sherry first female opposition leader

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ISLAMBAD: Following the well-calculated move, fourteen independent senators who were backed by the ruling PML-N in the elections for the upper house held earlier this month have decided to join the treasury benches. The fifteenth PML-N-backed senator who opted to sit on the treasury benches is Dr Asad Ashraf, who was elected in a by-election on a seat vacated after the disqualification of former senator Nehal Hashmi. According to a notification issued by the Senate Secretariat, two independent senators from Fata have also decided to join the treasury in addition to the 15 PML-Nbacked senators.

Sherry Rehman

Former finance minister Ishaq Dar, who was also elected in the March 3 Senate elections as a PML-N-backed independent from Punjab, was not named in the notification as he has not taken the oath as a senator. Meanwhile, 11 independent senators, including six from Fata, have decided to sit on the opposition benches. The choices made by 28 independent senators about joining the treasury or opposition are as follows:
Treasury
• 11 senators from Punjab
• 2 senators from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
• 2 senators from Islamabad
• 2 senators from Fata
Opposition
• 5 senators from Balochistan
• 6 senators from Fata
Meanwhile, six independent senators from Fata have formed a group and nominated Senator Aurangzeb as their leader, according to a separate notification.
Days before the Senate elections took place on March 3, all PML-N nominees were declared independent by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).The decision was taken in the aftermath of the Supreme Court verdict which removed Nawaz Sharif from his post as party head and nullified all official party decisions he took following the July 28, 2017, Panama Papers judgment.
The ruling party won the expected 15 seats in the elections despite having suffered a major setback in Balochistan, while the PPP pulled off a surprise win on 12 seats which with the likely support of independent candidates may further allow it to consolidate its position in the upper house.
Besides the 15 candidates backed by the PMLN, 12 PPP, 10 independent, six PTI, two candidates of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party and National Party each, one candidate from each of the MQM, Jamaat-i-Islami and PML-F had returned successful on 52 ofthe 104 Senate seats.
PPP Senator Sherry Rehman has been declared the Leader ofthe Opposition in the Senate,read a notification issued by the Senate Secretariat on Thursday. She is the first female in Pakistan to hold the position. PPP, after getting its candidates elected as Senate chairman and deputy chairman—Sadiq Sanjrani and Saleem Mandviwalla, respectively—has now occupied the office of the opposition leader with the support of 34 members. Rehman is the party’s seventh opposition leader in the Senate.