PPP strengthens position in Senate | Pakistan Today

PPP strengthens position in Senate

A total of 54 newly elected Pakistani senators took oath on Monday, completing election of the 104-member Upper House of the parliament, enabling the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) of President Asif Ali Zardari to further consolidate position in the House.
The senators were elected last month after 50 members retired after completing their 6-year term. Four seats for religious minorities, each from one province, have also been increased for the first time in the political history of Pakistan.
The PPP’s nominees for the Senate Chairmanship, Nayyar Bukhari and Deputy Chirman, Sabir Baloch were elected unopposed as the opposition group decided not to contest election in view of the clear majority of the PPP and its allies. The opposition parties did not file papers for the election of the office of the Chairman and the deputy chairman until specified time, paving the way for unopposed election.
The PPP has now emerged as the largest single party in the Senate with 41 members for the first time in nearly 15 years. The PPP had 27 members before the March 2nd Senate elections and now its fortified its position with 41 members. The PPP will enjoy majority for next three years when election for half of the seats will take place.
The total number of the PPP and its coalition partners in the Senate reaches 81, thus having a two-third majority to amend the constitution. Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has now emerged as the major opposition party with 14 votes. The PML-N will get the slot of the opposition leader in the Senate but the opposition groups will not be able to give tough time to the ruling coalition in view of the wide difference of the number of votes.
Senators in Pakistan are not elected through direct voting, so the Senate election could not be considered as the public support to any party. But Senate is the key legislative forum in the Pakistani parliamentary system as all laws and constitutional amendments are to be discussed and passed by it.
Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani while commenting on the victory of his party’s senators recently said that the PPP has almost won half of the election process, while referring to the upcoming parliamentary elections. Gilani and several ministers have already hinted early parliamentary polls and they said that this issue would be discussed with the opposition after the budget for 2012-13 will be passed. The annual budget will be passed in June as Pakistan’s new financial year is started on July 1.
With a big political boost in the Senate, the PPP is now in a better position to proceed despite several key challenges including its tension with the higher judiciary over contempt charges against the Prime Minister for not reopening graft cases against President Zardari and an alleged memo that sought U.S. help against the powerful army after the death of Osama bin Laden in May. The U.S. memo still haunts the government, which has also brought the government and the army in direct clash as the army wants to probe by the Supreme Court and the government opposes the move. NNI

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