The elections for the Senate Chairman and Deputy Chairman will be held on Today, via secret ballot. The newly-elected senators, however, will be administered oaths before the start of voting for the coveted slots.
According to the Senate Secretariat, the session will be adjourned after the oath-taking ceremony. After the adjournment, nomination papers for the chairman and deputy chairman would be submitted. The session will resume in the evening for the election of the Chairman and Deputy Chairman.
After the voting, the names of winning candidates for the slots of Chairman and Deputy Chairman will be announced and they will take oath on the same day.
The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and its allies have nominated the incumbent Chairman, Sadiq Sanjrani, against the joint opposition candidate Yousaf Raza Gillani, who bagged his Senate seat by staging an upset against Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, the Finance Minister.
The opposition has fielded Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, a Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam stalwart and former Deputy Chairman of the upper house, for the post of the Deputy Chairman whereas the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has nominated Mirza Muhammad Afridi, an independent Senator from erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), for the slot.
The government coalition – which includes the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), and the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) – has a total of 47 senators behind it.
The opposition – consisting of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), National Party (NP) and Awami National Party (ANP) – has a total of 53 senators behind it.
Discounting Ishaq Dar, who has not taken an oath and is in self-imposed exile, the opposition has 52 seats out of a possible 99. Even if JI abstains from voting and the ANP votes for the government, the opposition can still win the top slots if lawmakers vote along the party lines.
The government is still reeling from its defeat on the Islamabad seat, which it lost to the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s Gillani despite enjoying a majority in the National Assembly. In a bid to make up for the humiliating defeat, the government said it would use “all means” to ensure Sanjrani’s victory.
The statement indicates that horse-trading may once again rule the Senate elections, as the opposition has an upper hand in the Senate when it comes to numbers. A government win will likely mean votes are sold/wasted by the opposition lawmakers or switched loyalties among opposition factions.
There are also reports in sections of the media that seven opposition senators, allegedly belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), would defy the party to vote for PTI-backed Sanjrani.
If that happens it will be a repeat of the opposition’s no-confidence vote against Sadiq Sanjrani last summer that it lost even though it had enough lawmakers on its side to send Sanjrani packing.
Meanwhile, the opposition is confident that it will win both slots since it now holds a majority in the house. If the opposition wins the seats, it will be in complete control of the upper house that plays a crucial role in legislation and other parliamentary oversight.