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No chance of Senate session in near future

PPP during the current month, made two attempts to requisition a session, but failed owing to different reasons

September 24, 2023
A general view shows the Parliament House in Islamabad, Pakistan, on April 20, 2021. — AFP

ISLAMABAD: There appears no possibility of the Senate meeting anytime soon, after its last session was prorogued on August 9, which witnessed 17 working days but included only nine actual sittings.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), during the current month, made two attempts to requisition a session, but failed owing to different reasons.

The Upper House of Parliament is the only legislature after the National Assembly and the four provincial assemblies were dissolved at different junctures.

According to parliamentary sources, five of the six legislators belonging to parties other than the PPP in the Senate opted for withdrawal of their signatures on the requisition submitted in the Senate Secretariat on Sept 18 to discuss “skyrocketing inflation and inflated electricity bills causing grave concern and unrest among the general public”. Previously, PPP lawmakers had submitted a requisition for the Senate session to discuss the tragic Jaranwala incident. However, the requisition was rejected after it was conveyed to the party that signatures of five PPP senators on the requisition motion did not match with their signatures on the Roll of Members.

As regards the second requisition, it was learnt that when informed, PPP was astonished by the new development and sought Senate Chairman Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani to officially respond to its communication and reveal the names of those who had retracted their signatures from the requisition application.

According to these sources, five senators, who reportedly withdrew their signatures only after having been criticised by their respective leaderships, are Saadia Abbasi (PMLN), Muhammad Qasim (BNPM), Abida Azeem (PkMAP) and Haji Hidayatullah and Umer Farooq (ANP), whereas the requisition was signed by all the 21 PPP senators in the House and Senator Shamim Afridi, an independent, who had joined PPP in 2021.

They pointed out while a total of 28 senators had signed the requisition but the withdrawal of signatures by five members had reduced the number to 23, two short of the one-fourth members required to qualify for requisitioning a session.

It was also learnt that Chairman Senate Sanjrani had held a telephonic conversation with Senator Taj Haider of PPP to inform him about the fact that five senators had withdrawn their signatures, without disclosing their identity.

After this unexpected development, sources said Senator Haider wrote to the Secretary Senate, referring to chairman Senate’s call about withdrawal of senators’ signatures; he officially wanted names of the five members be shared with him. The Senate session, as per the calendar, was to be summoned on Sept 1, but no summary was moved by the caretaker government to summon the new regular session.