ISLAMABAD: There appeared some rift in the opposition camp as it lost the election of Senate chairman and deputy chairman on Friday. The government-backed candidates, Sadiq Sanjrani and Mirza Mohammad Afridi emerged victors in a hotly contested election. Sanjrani retained his office of chairman by defeating Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) candidate Yousaf Raza Gilani 48-43, with Gilani’s seven votes rejected.
Mirza Mohammad Afridi of the opposition alliance PDM upset Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri for the office of deputy chairman with 54 votes. Maulana Haideri polled 44 votes.
The Senate re-elected Sanjrani, who will be serving till March 2024.
How Gilani lost?
Seven votes cast for the opposition candidate were rejected as the stamp was not placed at the designated space, but was placed on Gilani’s name instead. The opposition has contested the rejection of the votes. If the votes are accepted, Gilani would won with two votes. However, in his ruling the Presiding Officer ruled that since the instructions on the ballot paper were clear, the seven votes stand rejected.
Rumors circulating in political circles on Friday claimed that that seven lawmakers from the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) would not vote for the joint opposition candidate.
The contest between the government-supported Sadiq Sanjrani from Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) candidate former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani of the PPP, was razor-thin in numbers as the opposition only had 4 more members than the government in the upper house of the Parliament. And both sides made all efforts to approach forward blocks and dissatisfied lawmakers of the other side to increase their chances of success.
The opposition commanded 52 votes in the Senate, with 17 Senators from PML-N, 21 PPP Senators, 5 from JUI-F, 02 from each ANP, 02 PKMAP, 02 BNP (Mengal) and 02 National Party (Balochistan). Giving the opposition a bare minimum simple majority without the support of the single senator of Jamat-e Islami on the opposition benches who will abstain from voting.
On the other hand, the treasury benches have 27 lawmakers from the PTI, 12 BAP senators, 4 Independents, MQM from 03, and a singular seat of the PML-Q, giving the government 47 members in the Senate.
The voting began under Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah as the Presiding Officer, while JUI-F’s Abdul Ghafoor Haideri was the first to cast his vote. Since the promulgation of the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan, eight people have been elected as Senate chairman, with PPP members having served the most frequently on the position. No woman has served on the position yet.
After resuming his duty, Sanjrani thanked Allah. He expressed gratitude to Prime Minister Imran Khan and members of the ruling coalition for reposing confidence in him for the coveted post.
Later, addressing the media opposition leaders Rajaz Pervaiz Ashraf and Qamar Zaman Kaira of the PPP and Ahsan Iqbal of the PML-N alleged that the government rigged the election and announced that they will challenge the result as “at least six of the rejected votes were cast in favour of Gilani.”
On the other hand, Information Minister Shibli Faraz criticised the opposition for corruption and doing everything for the sake of money. Despite employing all negative tactics, the opposition faced defeat today, added.