A day after the Rehbar Committee – a body representing the joint opposition— decided to move a no-trust motion against Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani on July 9, the committee has reportedly decided that the chairman will be from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) ranks.
According to a report in a local media outlet, the body gave the approval to elect a new Senate chairman from the party with the majority in the Upper House.
According to reports, Raja Zafarul Haq or Musadik Malik’s names could be floated for the top post; however, a final decision will be taken by July 11.
The reports further claimed that PML-N will leave the position of opposition leader after the bagging the chairmanship and new opposition leader will be decided soon.
However, Deputy Senate Chairman Saleem Mandviwalla, who is one of the aspirants for the top Senate post, will continue working at the current post.
On Friday, in its maiden meeting, the opposition decided to file a no-confidence motion against Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani on July 9 and reach a consensus on a joint candidate for the top slot by July 11.
Speaking to media persons after the meeting, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leader Akram Khan Durrani had said that the committee chose him as the convener for the next two months.
Speaking about the opposition’s candidate for the coveted slot, he said the opposition will announce the replacement candidate on July 11 after further deliberation.
THE NUMBERS’ GAME:
The joint opposition is in a comfortable numerical position to turn the tables on the ruling coalition if it goes ahead with its decision to vote out Sanjrani.
A primary condition will be that all the opposition votes are cast in the favour of its consensus nominee in the secret ballot.
As per the calculations, the opposition parties, in the 103-member House, enjoy the support of 61 senators while the governing alliance has the backing of 40 members.
The chairman can be removed by the majority of the total membership. Thus the support of at least 52 senators will be required to carry the no-confidence motion.
The opposition alliance comprises the PML-N with 29 senators, PPP with 20, National Party of Mir Hasil Bizenjo with five members, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) with four senators, Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) of Mehmood Achakzai with two and Awami National Party (ANP) of Asfandyar Wali with one member in the Upper House. The decision to remove Sanjrani was taken at an APC hosted by JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman.
The government alliance is in a weaker position, with PTI’s 14 senators. Its ally Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has five, Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) has two, and Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) and PML-Functional have one senator each in the House. 8 senators, who sit on the government benches, are from tribal districts.
The two votes of the Jamaat-e-Islami can’t be counted in the basket of the opposition or the government as this party has embarked upon an “independent” policy.
It stayed away from the APC and doesn’t stand with the government as well. Its Senate votes may go to either side or its MPs may even abstain.
Sadiq Sanjrani doesn’t belong to any of the political parties. He was elected a senator by an independent group. However, later the independent group, he belonged to, formed Balochistan Awami Party (BAP).
The numerical assets of the two sides apart, the chairman’s ouster, the first of its kind, will be a huge development that may stir the already charged political environment.
It may further peak the confrontation. Already, the opposition’s domination in the Senate has debilitated the government to get any bill passed from the Upper House.