Canvassing for tit-for-tat Senate motions in full swing

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Canvassing for tit-for-tat Senate motions in full swing
Canvassing for tit-for-tat Senate motions in full swing

ISLAMABAD: As the Senate secretariat on Friday asked President Arif Alvi to nominate a presiding officer for the session next week, Leader of the House in Senate Shibli Faraz rejected the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl) chief’s claim that the ruling party had sought an NRO-like deal from him for backing the incumbent Senate chairman and Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The Senate in its session on Aug 1 will take up tit-for-tat no-trust motions against the chairman and the deputy chairman of the upper house of parliament submitted by the opposition and the ruling party, respectively.

Senator Faraz rejected the statement of JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman during his interaction with the media soon after meeting Mir Hasil Bizenjo, the joint candidate of the opposition for the office of Senate chairman, while federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chau­dhry met Senate chairman Sadiq Sanjrani in a related development.

Senate secretariat asks president to select presiding officer for next week session; Shibli says no NRO-like deal sought for Imran, Sanjrani

The leader of the house said a delegation had met the JUI-F chief seeking his role in withdrawal of a no-confidence motion against Mr Sanjrani because the ruling PTI strongly believed that the upper house should not be turned into an arena.

Claiming that the government wanted to maintain the dignity of the parliament, Mr Faraz said it was for the first time in parliamentary history of Pakistan that a no-trust motion would be moved against Senate chairman. But it was ridiculous to claim that the delegation asked the Maulana to vote for Mr Sanjrani, he said, adding that he was shocked to see a religious leader telling lies.

Mr Faraz then announced that he would not hold further meetings with leaders of the joint opposition. “We are fully ready for a showdown,” he remarked.

Also, federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry after a meeting with the Senate chairman, told Dawn that they discussed ways to secure Mr Sanjrani’s position in the upper house of parliament.

“We are trying to persuade the opposition to withdraw the no-confidence motion against Sanjrani,” he said.

Status quo in the Senate was in interest of Pakistan and “we hope sanity will prevail”, he said.

Answering a question, Mr Chaudhry said the voting process on no-trust motion involved secret ballot. He expressed the hope that many senators from the opposition would cast their vote in accordance with their ‘conscience’.

Earlier, the Senate secretariat sent a letter to President Alvi asking him to nominate a presiding officer for the session on August 1.

Informed sources told Dawn that the Senate secretariat proposed three names and the president is to finalise one of them. The names in order of priority are Waleed Iqbal, Sardar Yaqoob Khan Nasar and retired lieutenant general Abdul Qayyum.

Under Rule 12 (5) of the rules and procedures and conduct of business in the Senate, the chairman or, as the case may be, the deputy chairman cannot preside over a sitting of the Senate in which a resolution for his removal from office is fixed for consideration.

The decision to write to President Alvi for nominating a presiding officer for the session had to be taken in view of the peculiar situation where the agenda will have no-trust motions against both the chairman and deputy chairman.

The opposition had submitted a no-trust motion against Senate chairman Sanjrani on July 9 after a decision was taken at a multi-party conference convened by the JUI-F chief.

The opposition while accusing the Senate chairman of being partial had also advised him to voluntarily resign. Mr Sanjrani, however, instantly ruled out the option.

The no-confidence motion was submitted to the Senate secretariat by Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq, Pakistan Peoples Party parliamentary leader Sherry Rehman, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Javed Abbasi and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam’s (JUI-F) Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri after a meeting of the opposition senators. The meeting was chaired by the leader of the opposition in Senate.

Three days after the move, the ruling PTI also submitted a tit-for-tat no-trust motion against Senate deputy chairman Saleem Mandviwalla.

The no-trust motion against Mr Mandviwalla, signed by the senators of the ruling PTI, its allies and some independent members, was submitted by Senator Faraz, who was accompanied by Barrister Saif of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Sarfaraz Bugti of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and senators from erstwhile Fata, including Sajid Turi.

Apparently, the opposition has a clear majority in the House, having 64 members excluding two Jamaat-i-Islami senators who are likely to abstain from voting.

While the opposition says it was in comfortable position to oust Sanjrani, the PTI continues to claim that many of the opposition senators would not vote against the chairman as a ‘matter of principle’.

PML-N senator retired Lt Gen Abdul Qayyum in a tweet said the opposition had two third majority in the upper house and it was opposition’s right to have the office of Senate chairman. He was of the opinion that Mr Sanjrani should have voluntarily resigned.

Talking to reporters, he said the opposition had a clear majority in the house and the ruling PTI’s claim that the no-trust motion would be defeated was meaningless.

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