–Opp not allowed to move resolution for Senate chief ouster on July 23
ISLAMABAD: President Arif Alvi has summoned a Senate session on August 1 at Parliament House for a no-confidence vote against incumbent Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, saying the opposition cannot move a no-trust motion against the chairman in the session requisitioned on July 23.
“In pursuance of the summary sent by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs for summoning of Session of the Senate for taking up motions for leave to move resolutions for removal of Chairman and Deputy Chairman Senate, the President of Pakistan, in exercise of powers under clause (1) of Article 54 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, has summoned the Senate session,” said a notification issued on Sunday.
The session starting from Tuesday would only discuss the matters pertaining to the removal of the chairman.
Sanjrani had 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.”
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 as it stayed away from the APC and doesn’t stand with the government as well.
The party also refrained from attending today’s opposition meeting to oust Sanjrani.
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.