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March 13, 2015

Rabbani elected Senate chairman unopposed

Top Story

March 13, 2015

ISLAMABAD: The PPP’s Mian Raza Rabbani was elected unopposed as chairman of the Senate on Thursday while the seat of the deputy chairman went to Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri of the JUI-F, who pocketed 74 out of the 96 polled votes.
The PTI’s Syed Shibli Faraz got 16 votes, which was quite surprising for many as he was the joint candidate of the PTI and JI and hence his tally of votes should have been seven. Six polled votes were declared invalid. Senator Hafiz Hamdullah was Haideri’s covering candidate, who withdrew along with Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldini of the BNP-M, another candidate for the post of deputy chairman.
Presiding Officer Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar administered oath to Rabbani and Haideri as the Senate chairman and deputy chairman respectively.Rabbani is the PPP’s second nominee to be elected chairman Senate unopposed back-to-back. The first was Syed Nayyar Hussain Bokhari, who bowed out a day earlier after completing his three-year term.
Though there was a clear division in the ranks of the PPP, PML-N and some other parties in extending support to Haideri, therefore, nine other votes, which were supposed to be polled for him, went to Shibli. However, it is believed that damage control was done by former president Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif prior to voting, otherwise, there might have been more surprising votes.
The Senate Chairman-elect Mian Raza Rabbani before taking oath of the coveted slot, spoke in the House and said that he and the speaker of the National Assembly would jointly defend, if any misadventure was mounted on the Parliament.
He chose to speak before his oath-taking, as immediately after that he was to assume duties as acting president as President Mamnoon Hussain was on a foreign visit.Rabbani vowed to jealously guard the sanctity of the parliament. He thanked all the political parties, which supported his candidature and elected him unopposed.
He pledged to treat all the senators equally

and give them equal opportunities to demonstrate their abilities to serve the masses. Rabbani pointed out that though there was no legal or constitutional bar, he thought it proper to resign as the PPP additional secretary general.
On this occasion, he credited slain leader Benazir Bhutto for the status, he had attained and also praised co-chairman of the PPP for nominating him for the Senate’s top post and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif endorsing his nomination.
Rabbani noted that the Parliament was passing through turbulent waters and the Constitution was in a phase, where it needed to be protected and defended.He thanked the house for reposing confidence in him while pledging to uphold sovereignty of the Parliament and the Constitution.
Rabbani remained in the chair for a couple of minutes and left the House after making Ishaq Dar presiding officer to conduct the proceedings with regards to the deputy chairman’s election.
Earlier, Dar, who was named presiding officer by the president, administered oath to the newly-elected senators in the morning session: Hasil Khan Bizenjo and Raheela Magsi were administered oath in the afternoon before the election of the deputy chairman. After taking oath, the members signed the roll of members.
Chairing the special session, Dar said that nomination papers of only one candidate were received for the slot of the Senate chairman and found in order. Therefore, Mian Raza Rabbani has been elected unopposed.
Senators from across the aisle, both sitting and those, who had been administered oath Thursday, heaped praise on Rabbani for his landmark contribution in thrashing out of the 18th Amendment, Charter of Democracy, restoration and promotion of democracy, rule of law and raising his voice for the down-trodden segments of the society.
Greeting Rabbani, Farhatullah Babar said he had entered upon the high office with formidable credentials as a great democrat and a constitutionalist, a committed federalist, a passionate human right activist, a genuine political worker, a brilliant lawyer and person of great integrity.
Rabbani, he noted, commanded respect not only in the House but also outside the Parliament, among intelligentsia, NGOs, the media and the civil society. However, Babar cautioned that Rabbani was faced with equally formidable challenges.
In this context, he noted that upholding the sovereignty was the greatest challenge and said during the past few years, the Parliament had come under pressure from some state institutions that tended to tread upon the domain of Parliament. “A major reason of the systematic erosion of the Parliament was the civil-military disconnect and the refusal of the security establishment to submit to parliamentary sovereignty.
“How would Chairman Raza Rabbani steer the House to play its role in retrieving the lost ground and ensuring its supremacy would ultimately be his test,” he said.
Congratulating Haideri on his election as deputy chairman, Babar pointed that the vote also contained a political message that needed to be heeded. The results of the ballot, he noted, showed Haideri had won with overwhelming majority but the 10 votes cast to PTI candidate and six votes rejected could also be seen as a protest vote by some members ignoring party line.
“The JUI-F needs to reflect whether the negative vote represented protest against the way some JUI-F stalwarts touched their world view in a diction that did not go down well with women and moderate and progressive elements,” he said.
“I guess the result of additional votes polled for me is that certain ideological senators of the PPP and some other parties were opposed to the decision of backing my rival,” said PTI’s candidate Shibli, when The News asked him, as to who could vote for him.
He pointed out that the six votes declared invalid were also significant, adding that one could not expect from a senator to improperly cast his or her vote. The PTI has a total of six senators while the vote of Jamaat-e-Islami’s Sirajul Haq also was polled for Shibli.
Senator Muzaffar Hussain said Rabbani was an outstanding man and would hopefully be an outstanding chairman of the Senate, having played key role in safeguarding supremacy of the Parliament and the Constitution.
PML-Q’s Mushahid Hussain Sayed also spoke highly for Rabbani and recalled how after drafting the report of the National Security Committee, he had presented it in the Parliament. He noted Rabbani was the first leftist to become Senate chairman, who always stood for provincial autonomy, progressive ideas and oppressed segments of the society.
Senator Tahir Hussain Mashhadi of the MQM said Rabbani had all the qualities of a good chairman and noted that hard task was awaiting him.
Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldeni said people of Balochistan were as patriotic as others in any part of Pakistan, but they were worried and grieved and there was a need to alleviate their sufferings. He reminded the House as per the constitutional and international practices, first right on the resources of a province, was of its own people and this needed to be ensured.
Jamaldeni has marked the a fresh start of parliamentary politics by BNP-M, which had quit it seven years back when Sanaullah Baloch had resigned as senator, saying it was useless to sit in a House that could not help end sufferings of his people.
Others, who spoke for Rabbani, included Muhammad Usman, Nighat Mirza, Abdul Rehman Malik, Raja Muhammad Zafarul Haq, Sirajul Haq, Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, Mushahidullah Khan, Ilyas Bilour, Nauman Wazir and Aitzaz Ahsan.

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