Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Saturday questioned the unopposed election of the senators from Punjab while responding to the allegations levelled by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz following the appointment of Yousaf Raza Gillani as the Senate opposition leader.
The PPP chief was referring to the Senate election in Punjab wherein the PML-N and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the two major parties in the provincial assembly, senators were elected without voting days ahead of the Senate election on March 3. Total 11 senators were elected, five each from PTI and PML-N and one seat belonged to the Pakistan Muslim League-Q.
Maryam and her party weren’t happy with the nomination of Gillani because they believed that the key slot belonged to the PML-N. However, the PPP and PML-N had reached an impasse and the PPP went ahead to nominate Gillani for the post. Gillani eventually won the seat, resulting in a barrage of allegations against the PPP by the PML-N leadership.
The PML-N alleged that the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), a party said to be controlled by the powers-that-be, held PPP win the seat. Maryam even went on to call Gillani a “selected” leader.
In response to these allegations, Bilawal said the PPP and its allies, including Awami National Party, Jamaat-e-Islami, had 26 members same as the PML-N and its allies. “We secured the vote of independent Senator Dilawar Khan, a former PML-N senator, to win the key slot with 27 members,” he said, adding that Dilawar has a separate group that has three Balochistan senators as its part.
According to Bilawal, the Senate opposition leader seat, as per the rules, belongs to the largest party in the house and the PPP would have won the seat without the support of the independent group. “How could I ask my party lawmakers to vote for the PML-N despite a majority in the house,” he said.
The PPP chairperson said that some PPP leaders felt that the PPP was being pushed against the wall in the PDM and added that the PDM chief, Maulana Fazlur Rehman and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, never talked to the PPP leadership about the opposition leader seat.
In a notification issued by the Senate Secretariat, Gillani was named as the leader of the opposition in the upper house of parliament.
“In pursuance of Rule 16(3) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate 2012, the chairman has been pleased to declare Senator Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani, as Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, with effect from March 26, 2021,” said a notification issued by the Senate Secretariat.
In a response to the victory, Ahsan Iqbal had tweeted that Gillani bypassed the PDM lawmakers, whose votes made him a senator, to become the Senate opposition leader. “Gillani, though a respectable man, preferred the senators of the Balochistan Awami Party(BAP),” he said, regretting the unilateral action of the PPP.
The PPP had formally appointed Gillani on Friday. His nomination by the PPP had marked a decisive crack within the PDM ranks, as the PML-N wanted to nominate its own man, Tarar, for the slot as per the reported commitments made in the PDM meeting.
Gillani had lost the Senate chairman elections to the government-backed candidate, Sadiq Sanjrani earlier this month.