Gillani or Sanjrani – who will have the last laugh?

Close contest expected in Senate chairman election on Friday

ISLAMABAD: While the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) pulled a surprise in the election of Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani on a general seat from the federal capital last week, it seems that the opposition has a daunted task ahead in wake of election of chairman of the Senate scheduled to be held on Friday, March 12.
The government has nominated Sadiq Sanjarani for the slot of Senate chairman while the PDM has nominated Gillani. On papers, it must be a cake walk for Gillani, but facts are bitter for him and it seems that none of the two candidates would be able to finish easily.
In case none of the two are able to secure 51 votes, Sanjrani would remain chairman and elections will continue till any of the two secures the required number.
Both the ruling coalition and the opposition have intensified their campaigns to help win support from each other’s camps as the elections on Friday would again be held through secret ballot.
Despite having a marginal advantage over the government, it would not be a cake walk for the opposition alliance which is operationally being led by an old fox – Asif Ali Zardari who is managing operational arrangements himself.
Prime Minister Imran Khan is perhaps the first chief executive of the country who is at the defensive and is crying foul despite having all state resources at hand while the opposition is making strides.
Sanjrani is known for his connections and is also actively engaging the senators from all sides. Gillani is also reaching out to the senators with full vigour though Zardari is calling shots himself. However, neither Gillani nor Sanjrani can win the battle as both lack required numbers practically.
In the number’s game, the opposition alliance leads the race in the 100-member Senate. The number of opposition alliance is 52 while the number of government allies in the House is 48. However, since Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Senator Ishaq Dar has yet not taken oath and is also reluctant to come to Pakistan, the number of opposition is reduced to 51.
MQM Senator Khalida Ateeb is also isolated herself due to demise of her husband and she has sought a decree to know if she could come out of isolation and vote for Sanjrani. She may not be able to make it to the polling day which may further complicate the situation for the ruling coalition.
However, the ruling party may rejoice as independent Senator Abdul Qadir from Balochistan has joined the PTI, taking the total number of government members to 48.
The government circles are claiming the support of one of the two ANP members who has won from Balochistan with support of the ruling coalition. If it happens, it may take the government number to 49 and the opposition’s number would be further reduced to 50. But one must consider that Jamaat-e-Islami’s (JI) lone voter has to take a decision yet.
The government will not be able to get the post of chairman of the Senate without luring two senators from the opposition.
It means that Sanjrani would need support of only two opposition senators to win the election of the chairman senate.
Soon after the disqualification of PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had also cancelled party tickets awarded by Nawaz Sharif to Senators Dilawar Khan, Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Asad Ali Junejo, Rana Maqbool, Hafiz Abdul Karim, Nuzhat Sadiq, Rana Mehmoodul Hassan and Shaheen Khalid Butt who were elected as independent Senators.
If any among them opts to vote for Sanjrani, it would be legal too.
With 19 new successful candidates, the PTI has become largest political party in the Senate and its number has increased to 26. With Qadir joining the PTI, the number has increased to 27.
The number of senators of Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) is 12. The number of independent members in the Senate was earlier eight out of which 4 have retired. One senator, Shamim Afridi, has joined the PPP, bringing the total number of independent senators to three who are supporting the government coalition.
The number of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) in the Senate is three. The Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) has one member in the Senate and so is the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA).
With joining of an independent, the number of former senators of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has risen to 21. The number of PML-N Senators is now 18 while the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) has five members.
The Awami National Party (ANP) has two new successful senators but one of its members has won with help of the government’s votes. The National Party (NP) has two seats while Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) and JI have one member each.

Mian Abrar
Mian Abrar
The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions. He tweets as @mian_abrar and also can be reached at [email protected]


  1. Once upon a time a dog sitting on top of the containers keeping entire sheep-heads flock with him blocking all King’s Palaces, Parliament defying even Chinese dragon’s visit eating daily biriyanis, butter naans with mutton kurma.
    Now, it happened to be dog’s days are numbered in crazy palaces and gardens and its mentor’s mind is wavering whether it can bite whenever wherever he wants?

Comments are closed.

Must Read

IHC decides to hear Nawaz’s appeal against conviction in Al-Azizia reference...

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday decided to hear PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif’s appeal against his conviction in the Al-Azizia reference on...