–Delegation calls on Fazl, seeks withdrawal of motion against Senate chairman for sake of ‘political stability’
–JUI-F chief says Opp has come a long way as Senator Shibli Faraz, Jam Kamal-led delegation fails to convince him
–Bilawal accuses govt of indulging in horse-trading, says Bizenjo will be elected as Senate chairman come what may
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s last-ditch effort to save Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani by approaching the opposition leaders on Wednesday remained an exercise in futility after Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Fazlur Rehman shot down the request.
As August 1 –the day when the Senate will take up no-trust vote against Sanjrani— draws closer, the government is ramping up efforts to defeat the opposition’s move against the chairman and a delegation, including PTI Senator Shibli Faraz and Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal, met Fazl in this regard.
The meeting with Fazl comes a day after a Senate session that was convened to debate the merits of the no-confidence motion was adjourned within a few minutes after the opposition lawmakers’ refusal to hold any debate on it.
Leader of Opposition in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq said it was against the rules to discuss a no-confidence resolution in a requisitioned session.
Speaking to reporters after meeting Fazl, Balochistan CM Kamal requested the opposition to withdraw the resolution against Sanjrani even though it was their “democratic right”, saying there is “no precedent of the practice”.
“This may lead to a no-confidence motion being submitted every two to three months,” he warned.
“We do not want the dignity of the Senate to be compromised,” PTI Senator Shibli Faraz said.
CM Kamal was hopeful that Fazl would play a positive role in dissuading the opposition from going ahead with the move to outvote Sanjrani. “If the opposition agrees to leave Sanjrani alone, then the PTI will also take back its motion against Saleem Mandviwalla—the incumbent deputy chairman.
The delegation, however, failed to convince Rehman, who said that the opposition has come a long way and now how can it fulfill the wishes of the government. “Let’s see what happens next,” he added.
The PTI will also contact other opposition parties “as a matter of principle”, said Shibli, saying: “What can be better than reaching out to opposition parties in order to improve the political situation?”
‘HORSE-TRADERS WILL BE DEALT HARSHLY’:
Meanwhile, the government delegation also approached the PPP over the issue, hoping the latter has a change of heart concerning the ouster of Sanjrani.
In response, the PPP told the government delegation that the party chief, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, was busy with the Karachi gathering preparations; however, the message will be conveyed to him and the party would get back to the government.
A few hours later, Bilawal outrightly rejected the offer in a press conference in Karachi.
The PPP chief warned the government of “dire consequences”, claiming that opposition senators were being offered money in return for their votes in favour of Sanjrani.
“Mir Hasil Bizenjo will be the Senate chairman and there will be no compromise over it. Agreeing to any deal with the government in this regard will have serious consequences for the country,” he said.
“I am asking opposition’s senators to take money from the government but vote for us. We will not spend a penny but their [government] money will be wasted” said the PPP chief.
The young politician claimed that some of the government members are in contact with the opposition leadership and they would vote for them in the no-confidence motion against Sanjrani.
According to Senator Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldini of Balochistan National Party (BNP-Mengal), the offer for changing the loyalties in no-trust voting against the chairman has reached seven to eight million rupees. The BNP-M senator was of the opinion that the “price” could climb up and it could go in between “fifty to one hundred million”.
Commenting over the PPP’s victory in Ghotki NA-205 by-election, Bilawal said that it is a clear message to ‘puppet politicians’. He thanked JUI-F supremo Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) leadership for its support to the PPP candidate.
“The victory [in Ghotki] has increased a vote of the opposition and reduced one vote from the government’s side. The people of Sindh have always supported democracy and Benazir Bhutto. PPP will never disappoint the nation over showing loyalty.”
THE NUMBER 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.