Saturday May 18, 2024

Gilani, Sanjrani contest set to go down to the wire

Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani and Mirza Muhammad Afridi of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led the ruling coalition and the joint opposition’s Yusuf Raza Gilani and Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri will be in a poll fight for the slots of Senate chairman and deputy chairman.

By Mumtaz Alvi & Noor Aftab
March 12, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani and Mirza Muhammad Afridi of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led the ruling coalition and the joint opposition’s Yusuf Raza Gilani and Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri will be in a poll fight for the slots of Senate chairman and deputy chairman today (Friday).

In terms of numerical strength, the opposition has a clear edge with 52 members, including one belonging to Jamaat-e-Islami on its side over the ruling coalition’s 47 members. However, as the election for the two key slots will be through secret ballot, therefore, surprise results are being anticipated, especially keeping in view the win of Gilani as senator, defeating the government candidate Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in the March 03 Senate elections.

Through a tweet, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz announced the decision of fielding Mirza Afridi for the post of deputy chairman, giving representation to erstwhile Fata.

After the Senate elections on March 03, the House strength has been reduced to 100 senators and now it consists of 99 senators, as PML-N’s Ishaq Dar is in self-exile and had been denotified. Likewise, JI Senator Sirajul Haq has reportedly announced to stay away from the election and this brings the strength of the opposition to 51 senators.

The ruling coalition comprises 27 members of the PTI, 12 of Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), three of MQM-P, three independents, one each of PML-Q and PML-F or GDA, whereas the joint opposition senators include, 21 of the PPP, 17 of PML-N, excluding Dar, five of JUI-F, two each of ANP, BNP-Mengal, PkMAP and National Party.

Media reports quoting sources said three senators from merged districts and the MQM-P senators have decided to vote for Sadiq Sanjrani.

Yusuf Raza Gilani has also support of an independent Senator Shamim Afridi who has joined the PPP. The sources also claimed that one member of PML-N has also informed the party leadership that he would vote for Sadiq Sanjrani. The sources said the opposition alliance Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) faces a gigantic task to ensure that all members of its component parties vote for Gilani.

When PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz chaired a meeting of the party senators it appeared that four of them could not attend it due to various reasons. The PML-N maintained that wife of Senator Dilawar Khan was not well, Senator Nuzhat Sadiq was down with pollen allergy, Senator Kamran Michael was busy at the opening ceremony of his hospital, while Senator Khalid Shaheen Butt was in the United States.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, who hosted a luncheon in honour of the ruling coalition legislators, sounded quite confident that both Sanjrani and Mirza would successfully make it to the top two posts. The senators belonging to the allied parties held out categorical assurance of full support to these two candidates.

On this occasion, the prime minister said he was mindful of the concerns and reservations of the coalition partners and would duly address them after this crucial phase and having already dealt with challenges on the economic front and handling the second wave of the coronavirus.

Later, Chairman Senate Sanjrani called on Prime Minister Imran Khan: Leader of the House Dr Shahzad Waseem and Minister for Information Senator Shibli Faraz were also present on the occasion. Separately, PTI Chief Organiser Senator-elect Saifullah Khan Nyazee, PTI Secretary General Aamir Mahmood Kayani and Sindh Governor Imran Ismail had a special meeting with Imran Khan. The meeting had a detailed discussion on the election of the chairman and deputy chairman of the Senate. PM Imran Khan directed Nyazee and Kayani to complete immediate organisation at the lowest level.

On the other hand, the PDM alleges that the government can win only by the use of force or money in the eleciton of the Senate chairman and deputy chairman.

The president has already summoned the special session of the Senate for oath-taking senators-elect and election of the chairman and deputy chairman. The House will meet at 10:00am today (Friday) for oath-taking and then reconvene at 3:00pm for the election. For the conduct of this process, the PML-Functional Senator Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah has been appointed presiding officer. The Senate Secretariat has issued the orders of the day for the special session.

Prominent among this, bowing out on completion of their six-year term are the veteran lawmaker Raja Zafarul Haq, firebrand Pervaiz Rashid, Ayesha Raza Farooq, Abdul Rehman Malik, Sirajul Haq, Usman Khan Kakar, local Senator Ch Tanvir Khan and Dr Jahanzeb Jamaldini.

Five senators passed way before completion of their term and they are late Muhammad Azam Musakhail, Shahbaz Durrani, Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, Kulsoom Parveen and Mushahidullah Khan. Then some 12 senators have won re-election and they include Sherry Rehman, Farooq H Naek, Saleem Mandviwala, Shibli Faraz, Liaquat Tarakai, Mohsin Aziz, Zeeshan Khanzada, Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, Maulana Attaur Rehman, Prof Sajid Mir, Sarfraz Bugti and Manzoor Kakar.

As many as 52 senators will retire by 12:00 midnight and the 48 senators-elect, who made their way to the Senate, will be administered oath. Four Senate seats have been omitted on merger of the tribal areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The House now has total strength of 100 members and previously it consisted of 104 senators.

Meanwhile, Mirza Afridi said after his nomination that Imran Khan has fulfilled the commitment he made to the people of erstwhile Fata. "I want to give glad tidings to the people of merged districts that we will win this [election]," he said.

Afridi said that it had been a long while before a person hailing from Pakistan's rural areas got elected to the post. He added that it is PM Imran's vision to appoint people to important posts who would serve the masses.

According to the official website of the Senate of Pakistan, Afridi is an independent candidate from erstwhile Fata who has been a Senator since March 2018 and his tenure will last till March 2024.