ISLAMABAD: Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani has summoned a session of the Upper House of Parliament on Tuesday, July 23, on the requisition of the opposition.
The session will convene on Tuesday at 3pm, according to a notification issued by the Senate Secretariat.
On July 18, Sanjrani approved a notice for the “Motion for Removal of Chairman Senate” in terms of Rule 12 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate, 2012.
The Senate Secretariat has also circulated the notice among the members and written a letter to the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs for further necessary action at its end.
However, it is still not clear whether the no-confidence motion can be moved in a requisitioned session of the Senate. Sanjrani recently said that only discussions on public issues may be allowed in the session, drawing sharp criticism from opposition members.
On Friday, Senator Hasil Bizenjo, the opposition parties’ joint candidate for the top Senate slot, warned that any attempt to delay the no-confidence motion against the chairman would be in violation of the constitution.
“A session [of the Senate] should be called immediately for voting,” he told the media after a meeting of parties.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Senator Raja Zafarul Haq, the leader of the opposition in the house, said the opposition had submitted a letter to the Senate secretariat informing the Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani that he could not chair the session convened for the no-confidence motion.
The opposition parties in their letter have informed the secretariat that moving a no-confidence motion against the Senate chairman was as per the constitution and if the majority of the house voted against him, Sanjrani had to quit the post.
They also insisted that contrary to the secretariat’s earlier claim, there was no provision in the constitution that prohibited moving a no-confidence motion in a requisitioned session.
Bizenjo said the secretariat did not point out any flaws in the no-trust motion for four days after it was submitted and then the Senate chairman wrote a letter to the opposition.
“We went through the letter and prepared a response which has been submitted to the secretariat,” he added.
Bizenjo further noted that 55 opposition senators had participated in a meeting held on Thursday – a number that was enough to de-seat the Senate chairman.
“This number will increase to over 60 in the next meeting of the opposition senators on Monday,” he maintained.
“It is important to convene a session as soon as possible so that the opposition senators’ majority in the house becomes clear.”
Bizenjo further claimed that the opposition had 66 senators while only 33 lawmakers supported the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
“If the government wants to blackmail us using personal videos, it can go ahead with it. And if it thinks it can buy off opposition senators, it is mistaken.”
In response to the opposition’s concerns, Sanjrani wrote another letter on Friday clarifying that the removal of the Chairman or Deputy Chairman of the Senate is to be done through a resolution and not a no-confidence motion.
“Please stand corrected that in terms of clause (7) of Article 53 read with Article 61 of the Constitution, the Chairman or the Deputy Chairman Senate is to be removed from office by a Resolution and there is no such jargon or concept of ‘motion of no confidence’,” read the letter.
“I am ready to face the resolution,” he went on to declare.
The Senate chairman regretted the “dismal position” in the opposition’s letter whereby it had badly misinterpreted his intent “to protect the sanctity of the Ruling of the Chair” as “sitting in [his] own cause”.
On July 9, the opposition parties submitted a no-trust motion against the Senate chairman to the secretary of the upper house of the parliament to ramp up pressure on the incumbent Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government.
The motion was submitted by Zafarul Haq, Sherry Rehman, PML-N leader Javed Abbasi and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam’s (JUI-F) Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri.
In a tit-for-tat move, senators of the PTI and its allies also moved a no-confidence motion against Senate Deputy Chairman Saleem Mandviwalla, who is from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
The motion, signed by 26 senators, was submitted in the Senate Secretariat.
In March last year, in a major blow to the then ruling party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Sanjrani was elected the Senate chairman with the support of PTI, PPP and a bloc of independent lawmakers.