ISLAMABAD - Though the political temperature in the capital have somehow plummeted after the election of Senate chairman and deputy chairman, a race among the parliamentary parties in the Upper House has now started to grab chairmanship of important house committees.

All Senate standing committees, functional committees and other house committees stand dissolved since Thursday (March 12) with the expiry of six-year term of half of the lawmakers in the 104-member Upper House of the Parliament. The Senate had total 33 standing and functional committees, besides house committees, until March 11.

The first uphill task before the newly elected Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani would be the formation of these committees and getting conducted elections for their chairpersons. In the light of Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate, 2012, the slots of chairmanship of Senate committees would be allocated to the political parties and independent groups in the House in accordance with their proportional strength in the House (sub-rule [2] of Rule 175) within two months after the election of Chairman and Deputy Chairman (Rule 174).

The maximum number of committee chairmanships therefore will go to Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) which emerged as the single largest majority party in the Senate with 27 seats in March 5 Senate elections, followed by Pakistan Muslim League -Nawaz (PML-N) having 26 seats. MQM secured eight seats, ANP seven, PTI six, JUI-F five, PML-Q four, National Party three, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party three and BNP-Awami two while PML-F, BNP-Mengal and Jamat-i-Islami won one seat each. Six seats are for independent members, including four Fata slots for which elections is yet to be held.

PPP after last Senate elections had accommodated other parliamentary parities in the chairmanship of committees, even by giving them some slots out of its own share, as it was the single largest party in the house with an unparalleled strength of 41 seats at that time.

Senior PPP leader and spokesman to PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, Senator Farhatullah Babar said that chairpersonship of Senate committees reflect the strength of respective political parties in the House. “We had accommodated other parties in the house in the last Senate election while giving them more chairpersonships (of committees) than their proportionate strengthen in the house as the both slots of chairman and deputy chairman had gone to PPP. PPP really went out of the way that time,” he said, adding that PPP also held all the constitutional posts at that time.

But the scenario is different now, he said. “As neither the slot of Senate deputy chairman is with PPP now nor the party holds other constitutional offices including that of PM, President, and speaker and deputy speaker of national assembly. Now we will not sacrifice… our share,” he said.

Under the procedure, the Senate Secretariat will seek options from the legislators for becoming the members of the Senate committees keeping in view their expertise in the specific area or ministry. The Senate Secretariat shall include the legislators in the committees while keeping in view their choices submitted to it. The rules say that a member of the Senate shall not be a member of more than four standing or functional committees at the same time.