With the leadership of the two main opposition parties behind bars on corruption charges, the opposition in the Senate is set to submit a no-trust motion against Sadiq Sanjrani (left), the chairman, on Tuesday (today) as a first step towards mounting pressure on the PTI-led coalition government. — APP/File
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Opposition set to submit no-trust motion against Sanjrani today

ISLAMABAD: With the leadership of the two main opposition parties behind bars on corruption charges, the opposition in the Senate is set to submit a no-trust motion against Sadiq Sanjrani, the chairman, on Tuesday (today) as a first step towards mounting pressure on the PTI-led coalition government.

The submission of the motion will precede a meeting of senators belonging to the opposition to thrash out a strategy for the no-confidence motion. The meeting will be chaired by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Raja Zafarul Haq, who had lost to Sanjrani in last year’s polls for the office of Senate chairman.

The decision to convene the meeting was taken after National Party (NP) leader Mir Hasil Khan Bijenjo called on Raja Zafarul Haq on Monday.

Talking to reporters after meeting Mr Haq, the NP leader said: “We discussed a strategy for the no-confidence motion.”

Mr Bizenjo said the strategy would also be discussed at a meeting of opposition senators at Parliament House on Tuesday.

He said senators from the opposition would put their signatures on the no-trust motion and then it would be submitted to the Senate Secretariat.

In reply to a question, he said a decision on the opposition’s candidate for Senate chairman would be taken on Thursday (July 11) at a meeting of the Rahbar committee. “So far neither I am a candidate nor has anybody proposed my name.”

Read: Opposition’s Rehbar Committee to announce joint candidate for Senate chairman on July 11

In reply to a question whether Tuesday’s meeting had been convened to check the available number of opposition senators, he said: “We want to ensure that a large number of members support the motion.”

Although a final decision on the opposition’s candidate is to be taken on Thursday, sources in the PML-N claimed that the party had been given the right to name the opposition’s nominee for the slot.

Other sources, however, say that the opposition’s candidate would be from Balochistan. Sadiq Sanjrani is the first-ever Senate chairman from Balochistan.

A decision to remove the chairman of the upper house was made at a multi-party conference (MPC) on June 26.

The PML-N is still a majority party in the Senate. Interestingly, the N-League had offered to assist the PPP in getting Raza Rabbani re-elected as Senate chairman, but the latter opted to join hands with the PTI.

A majority of 53 votes is required to remove the Senate chairman. Currently, the PPP, PML-N, National Party and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) have 46 members, while there are 29 independents. The Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) has two members, while the Awami National Party (ANP), Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and PML-Functional have one member each.

The ruling PTI has 14 members, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) five and Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) has two senators.

Rules for removal

Section 11 of rules of procedure and conduct of business in the Senate-2012 explains the process for removal of the chairman and the deputy chairman from office.

Section reads: “(1) Not less than one-fourth of the total membership of the house may give to the secretary notice in writing of a motion for leave to move a resolution under Article 61, read with paragraph (c) of clause (7) of Article 53 of the Constitution, for removal from office of the chairman or the deputy chairman and the secretary shall forthwith circulate the notice to the members. The chairman or, as the case may be, the deputy chairman shall not preside over a sitting of the Senate in which a resolution for his removal from office is fixed for consideration. Voting on the resolution shall be by secret ballot, which shall be held in such manner as the presiding officer may direct. The chairman or, as the case may be, deputy chairman shall stand removed from his office on the resolution being passed by a majority of the total membership of the Senate.”

Sadiq Sanjrani, the incumbent, was elected with the support of the PPP and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf on March 12 last year by bagging 57 votes against 46 by Raja Zafarul Haq of the PML-N.

The Senate’s decorum was interrupted briefly as counting for the chairman’s election about to close, with observers in the galleries erupting in cheers for PPP chairman Asif Ali Zardari — crediting him with engineering Sanjrani’s victory — as soon as Sanjrani crossed the 52-vote mark.

A shouting match followed between former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s son, Abdullah Abbasi, and the PTI’s Engineer Hamidul Haq as soon as the new chairman was elected. Both of them were removed from parliament.

Published in Dawn, July 9th, 2019

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