Thursday February 09, 2023

Opposition mulls no-trust motion against Senate chairman

November 16, 2021
Opposition mulls no-trust motion against Senate chairman

ISLAMABAD: It will be a tester to appraise whether or not Prime Minister Imran Khan is in reality dispossessed of the props he has been falling back on since he assumed office more than three years back.

There is a buzz going around that to intensify their campaign to unnerve the government inside the parliament, the opposition parties are giving a serious thought to assess his parliamentary position and backing without the usual support he has been enjoying from the day one.

The opposition wants to also evaluate the government’s loneliness in the wake of a supposed rupture in the same page mantra by moving a no-confidence resolution against Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani. If the opposition parties succeed in getting Sanjrani, who otherwise has been a great survivor in the past, there will be no stopping them in going for taking on the prime minister through an identical move. In such an eventuality, the government will obviously become under further pressure.

But if the opposition fails in achieving its goal in the upper house of parliament for any reason, it will be stumped and its future plans to rattle the government will receive a jolt. The brass-tacks of the plan against the Senate chief are being firmed up. If the opposition parties finally go for the great kill, they will assign specific roles to the individual parties for producing the allocated number of senators in favour of the no-trust motion. The pros and cons of such an enterprise are being meticulously reviewed again and again.

When the numerical strengths are put together, the two factions of the opposition led by Yusuf Raza Gillani of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Azam Nazeer Tarar, who represents all the other groups including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUIF), National Party (NP) and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PKMAP), are in a clear majority in the Senate. They have the numbers to carry the no-confidence motion against Sanjrani if the voting process is fair and neutral. The government is in a clear minority.

Last time, the opposition parties were floored as their no-trust move against the same Senate chairman had been defeated although at the time they were also in majority. Even all of their members, who had stood up to move the resolution, had not voted in its favour in the secret ballot. More than a dozen opposition senators had cheated their parties simply because of the same page scenario. The political parties had not conducted any probe to identify the deserters to avoid further humiliation.

Strangely, there were some treasury senators who, in the election for the Senate chief, had voted for Sanjrani in his fight against a candidate of the PML-N and its allies, and had also stood with Gillani to select him as the leader of the opposition. The two groups have a total of 56 senators, which shows their majority.

Gillani had secured the opposition leader’s seat with the support of 30 ‘opposition’ senators. They had included 21 members from the PPP, two from the Awami National Party, one from the Jamaat-e-Islami, two independents from the erstwhile tribal areas (Hidayatullah and Hilalur Rahman) and four from the independent group of Dilawar Khan who had been supporting the PMLN in the past. Other members of the group included Kaira Babar, Naseebullah Bazai and Ahmad Khan, all supportive of the government.

Tarar had submitted his nomination papers with signatures of 17 members, all from the PMLN. He had the support of five senators belonging to the JUI-F and two each from the NP and the PkMAP.

Not only the opposition but several others also believe that the same page doesn’t exist any longer specifically after October 6 and the situation has radically changed to the government’s disadvantage and consternation. They feel the government has been left on its own to manage its affairs. This is a new experience and obviously a bitter one that the government is confronted with for the first time in 39 months since it came to power. Those deeming that the circumstances have drastically altered are interpreting the visible uneasiness and distancing of the junior partners of the ruling coalition including the PMLQ, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement- Pakistan (MQMP) and the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) from the senior component that the government is cornered and in a tight spot. They think this situation has developed primarily because of the damage to the same page rhetoric. The allies are voicing the demands they have not articulated before and have been relishing in the cabinet positions they have showered by the prime minister.

The nuts and bolts of the plan against the Senate chief are yet to be firmed up. If the opposition parties finally go for the great kill, they will assign roles to the individual parties for producing a specific number of senators in favour of the no-trust motion.