Yet again visible invisible in Senate | By Naveed Aman Khan


Yet again visible invisible in Senate

DEFYING numbers, PTI-backed can didates have won the coveted slots of Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Senate of Pakistan.

PTI candidate, Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani, won another term as the Senate chairman in a blow to the joint opposition despite the latter having a majority in the Upper House.

In a second win for the ruling coalition, PTI-backed Senator Mirza Moha­m­mad Afridi was elected Deputy Chairman, beating opposition candidate Haideri of the JUI-F.

The opposition has challenged the result of the Senate Chairman election after it was announced that seven votes cast in favour of opposition candidate Yousuf Raza Gilani were rejected.

Presiding officer Muzaffar Shah overruled their objection, saying the seven votes were rejected because they were not stamped correctly.

Another vote was rejected because it had been casted in favour of both the candidates.

With a total of eight votes rejected, Gilani received 42 valid votes, while Sanjrani won the election after bagging 48 votes. In total, 98 senators voted in the election.

For the Deputy Chairman election, Sanjrani announced that Afridi had received 54 votes, while Haideri received 44. This indicates seven opposition senators likely voted for the PTI-backed candidate.

Seven votes casted in favour of Gilani were rejected because the stamp on these ballot papers was affixed on Gilani’s name instead of against his name.

The controversy sparked by rejection of 7 votes stamped on Gilani’s name. On the other hand, PTI’s Mohsin Aziz, the polling agent for Sanjrani, while reading out from a paper said the instructions very clearly stated that the vote had to be stamped in the box in front of the preferred candidate’s name, and not on top of the candidate’s name.

Muzaffar Shah then stated that in his view, the instructions stated that the stamp had to be placed in front of the candidate’s name.

He subsequently rejected the seven votes in question and declared Sanjrani the winner.

As opposition members protested, the presiding officer asked them to go and appeal the ruling in the election tribunal if they didn’t agree with it.

The PPP has rejected the results of the Senate Chairman election. PPP will either challenge the result in court or bring a no-confidence motion against Sanjrani.

Now it seems the PPP leadership will announce the final route it will take.

The ranks of the government, were abuzz with celebration in the wake of Sanjrani’s victory.

Is Sanjran’s win a win of Democracy? Who do the numbers favour? Though the opposition enjoyed a clear majority in the Senate to win both the seats, political pundits before the election said it was going to be a close contest and any deviation from party policy and wastage of votes in secret ballot could translate into an upset.

Back in August 2019, Senate Chairman Sanjrani had survived no-confidence vote when only 50 votes were casted in favour of the opposition’s motion against the 53 needed in the 104-member House for the move to succeed. Forty five senators had voted against the motion and five votes were rejected.

Interestingly, earlier when the resolution was moved for the no-confidence motion, 64 opposition members had supported it.

After the Senate elections on March 3, the House strength has been reduced to 100 senators and now it consists of 99 Senators, as Ishaq Dar is in self-exile and has not taken oath as a Senator.

Now, the Senators of the ruling coalition include 27 members of the PTI, 12 of Balochistan Awami Party, 3 of MQM, 3independents and one each of PML-Q and PML-F which is part of the (GDA).

The PDM Senators include 21 of PPP, 17 of PML-N, excluding Ishaq Dar who has not taken oath of the office, 5 of JUI-F, 2 each of ANP, BNP-Mengal, PkMAP and National Party and one of JI.

The opposition collectively had 52 members in the House excluding Dar, against 47 Senators belonging to the ruling coalition.

The JI decided to abstain from voting, the difference between the vote bank of the government and the opposition had narrowed down to four.

Amid voting secret cameras controversy arose. This is against Article 226 of the Constitution.

The incident is a great blow to democracy, rule of law, the Constitution and the recent opinion by the Supreme Court that the Senate polls be held by secret ballot.

The recovered cameras be secured and sealed till the final disposal of the matter.

After RTS and Daska by-poll fiasco, those making a last ditch effort to rob the Senate have lost the last battle. The Constitution mentions secret vote not secret cameras.

Defeat of Hafeez Sheikh in Senate was big blow to Premier IK. It was staged to keep him in limit on tightrope walk. After it is done another card is played to keep PPP in hide and seek situation of hope.

Senate triumph has provided another opportunity of unity and deliverance to PDM before long March.

Has Shahbaz, Zardari formula of compromise taken its last breath? Has once again Nawaz’s political myth come up an undenied reality? Has door of compromise once again shut? Will continued political turmoil not damage Pakistan? PTI government is more concerned in completion of its term than its performance.

The government can complete its term but will country and the nation also be lifted?
—The writer is book ambassador, columnist, political analyst and author of several books based in Islamabad.