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Tuesday June 18, 2024

Gilani, Syedal elected unopposed as Senate chairman, deputy

Gilani and Syedal were administered the oath by the presiding officer Muhammad Ishaq Dar

By Mumtaz Alvi & News Desk
April 10, 2024
Senator Ishaq Dar administers oath to newly-elected Senate Chairman Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani. — YouTube screengrab
Senator Ishaq Dar administers oath to newly-elected Senate Chairman Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani. — YouTube screengrab

ISLAMABAD: PPP stalwart Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani and PMLN’s Syedal Khan Nasir were Tuesday elected unopposed as the Senate chairman and deputy chairman, respectively, and were sworn in accordingly.

Gilani and Syedal were administered the oath by the presiding officer Muhammad Ishaq Dar.

The PTI had already boycotted the election and agitated in the House at the very outset, calling for suspending the election as the house was incomplete in the absence of 11 senators elected from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Addressing the upper house before the election, Barrister Ali Zafar said the house was incomplete and called for an adjournment of the session. The election of Senate chairman and deputy chairman could harm the Federation, he warned.

Ali Zafar contended that the session [for electing the chairman and deputy chairman] should be postponed until the Senate elections were held in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He also announced his party would not participate in the election for the top slots. He said any kind of election would be morally and legally invalid until the Senate was complete. He said the role of chairman and deputy chairman was very important, as they represented the entire house. Every step the Election Commission took created a constitutional crisis.

Zafar said without the reserved seats, the prime minister, president and Punjab chief minister were elected, but when the turn of senators from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa came, the commission stopped it. At this time the reality was that no one from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was present in the house, he added. “We are making these elections controversial without Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Defeat and victory are part of politics. PTI wants to be a part of the Senate elections, but if there is a situation where Senate does not meet according to the Constitution, then we cannot be part of it,” he said.

Another PTI Senator Mohsin Aziz said, “It is a new beginning of the Senate year. Protecting Pakistan is paramount for us. A few months ago in the same House, we saw that when people had left and 12 people were present, a resolution was presented to suspend the election and it was passed. The situation is that a province currently faces disparity. If a unit of the Senate is not present here, then this election is not right. Without their members, the election of chairman and deputy chairman Senate should not be held.”

PTI Senator Mohammad Humayun Mohmand objected to Dar presiding over the session and said a presiding officer should be someone who was already a senator.

The Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) declared the election of the Senate chairman and deputy chairman illegal and unconstitutional, as senators from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had not been elected yet.

SIC Senator Hamid Khan said unless Khyber Pakhtunkhwa elections were completed, the house will remain incomplete. “It is a disputed matter pending with the Islamabad High Court,” Hamid Khan said.

Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar said senators were not allowed to speak before taking oath despite the constitutional mandate. He said the PTI senators were allowed to speak adding that everything was clear in Article 60 which said after the formal oath-taking of members, the chairman and deputy chairman must be elected in the first session. “We should have some retrospection; elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have not been postponed due to any natural disaster. The members who were elected on reserved seats there had to take oath, which was not administered to MPAs-elect,” he said.

Independent senator-elect Faisal Vawda and Maulana Abdul Wasay of JUI-F were not present. After oath-taking, the newly elected senators signed the roll of members one by one. The session was then briefly adjourned before the election of chairman and deputy chairman.

Gilani and Syedal were elected unopposed as Senate chairman and deputy chairman, respectively, as no other member filed nomination papers for the two slots.

When the session resumed at 12:30 pm, Dar said only Gilani’s nomination papers had been received and therefore he was elected as the Senate chairman. He then administered an oath to Gilani.

Gilani, the ninth Senate chairman, wished Eid Mubarak to the members and thanked his party, PMLN, MQM, ANP, BAP, NP and JUI-Fazl for their support. In a choked voice, he recalled the hanging of ex-PM Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and cited last month’s Supreme Court of Pakistan’s admission of his judicial murder.

He vowed to build bridges, enable dialogue and provide space for meaningful and robust discussions and contribute to the country’s progress. “I will be the chairman of Senate, the entire House. My solemn commitment is not to compromise on the dignity of the House and its members,” he said.

Gilani said the Senate represented the unity of the Federation and the diversity and strength of the nation. “In the present moment, the crisis is deep. Pakistan faces an assault of those who seek to divide and polarise us, those who seek to incite hatred, those who seek to replace norms of civility and abuse democracy and demagoguery,” he said.

Gilani contended that the PPP always rejected politics of hate and preferred politics of reconciliation and of the welfare of people.