ISLAMABAD: The joint opposition on Tuesday submitted a resolution in Senate against incumbent chairman Sadiq Sanjrani in a bid to oust him and urged for a requisition of the Upper House session at the earliest.
Senate Secretary Mohammad Anwar confirmed that the Secretariat had received the resolution, saying that a constitutional procedure over the matter will be followed.
The chairman, who has the authority to call a session, is bound to summon the Senate session within a period of 14 days, he added.
The resolution was submitted after a meeting between members of the joint opposition in the chamber of Senate Opposition Leader Raja Zafarul Haq.
The meeting had Senators Sherry Rehman, Sassui Palijo, Ashok Kumar, Pervez Rashid, Musadiq Malik, Mushahidullah Khan, and Usman Kakar, among others, in attendance.
The resolution — which demanded the removal of the Senate chairman under Rule 12 (Removal of Chairman or Deputy Chairman) of the Rules of Procedure in Conduct of Business in the Senate — was drawn up by PPP leader Sherry Rehman and PML-N Senator Javed Abbasi and signed by 44 members of the opposition.
According to sources, it is getting difficult for the opposition to remain united over the issue as differences cropping up among their cadres.
A source told Pakistan Today that during the meeting of the opposition, Senator Rehman Malik of the PPP raised serious questions over moving the no-confidence motion against Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani which prompted PPP Senator Sherry Rehman and Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar to respond Malik with a ‘threatening tone’.
“Don’t meddle with the party affairs,” a source in the party quoted Sherry Rehman as telling Malik after he asked about the origin of the no-confidence motion.
According to the source, Malik had actually backed an argument made by PML-N senior leader Senator Pir Sabir Shah who had complained that he was not taken into confidence over the no-confidence motion.
The source said Dr Musaddik Malik of the PML-N asked Senator Pir Sabir Shah to stop complaining as the party leadership had taken the decision.
Shah told him to stay silent, as he was a junior party member.
According to another source, Rehman Malik also questioned why around 19 senators of the PML-N did not sign the no-confidence motion despite being a majority party.
Malik said that if the leading party was divided over the motion, the move may fail.
When contacted, Rehman Malik said that there was no difference among the PPP senators and all had signed the no-confidence motion.
He vehemently denied reports that Senator Malik had refused to sign the no-confidence motion against Sanjrani, saying that there was no truth in these reports.
Another source said that the opposition members of Senate from Balochistan also advised the opposition parties to desist from the no-confidence move and rather adopt a legal course.
It may be noted that the joint opposition has yet to nominate a candidate who will replace Sanjrani.
The decision to oust Sanjrani was taken on Friday during a maiden meeting of the Rehbar Committee. It also decided to reach a consensus on a candidate for the top slot by July 11.
JUI-F leader Akram Durrani had said that the opposition will announce the replacement candidate on July 11 after further deliberation.
SANJRANI TO HOLD HIS GROUND:
Meanwhile, Senate Chairman Sanjrani told reporters during an informal interaction that he will not be stepping down voluntarily.
“A motion of no-confidence is a democratic right,” he remarked.
“I have no reservations about the resolution being submitted,” he said. “I am still here and doing my job.”
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 favor 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 confro
ntation. Already, the opposition’s domination in the Senate has debilitated the government to get any bill passed from the Upper House.