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NEWLY elected Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani administering the oath to deputy chairman Saleem Mandviwalla on Monday.
NEWLY elected Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani administering the oath to deputy chairman Saleem Mandviwalla on Monday.

• Sanjrani gets 57 votes to become first-ever Senate chairman from Balochistan
• PPP’s Mandviwalla elected deputy chairman with 54 votes
• Hasil Bizenjo says Balochistan and KP assemblies were turned into a market where votes were bought

ISLAMABAD: In a historic election, the first-ever Senate chairman from Balochistan was elected with the support of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), independent candidates from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and some other opposition parties as the candidate backed by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) faced an extraordinary defeat on Monday.

Sadiq Sanjrani, an independent senator from Balochistan who had the backing of an undeclared alliance between the PPP and the PTI, secured 57 votes, defeating the PML-N-backed candidate Raja Zafarul Haq who could bag only 46 votes in the election for the office of Senate chairman.

The post of deputy chairman of the upper house of parliament was won by Saleem Mandviwalla of the PPP who received 54 votes beating his opponent Usman Kakar of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, a PML-N ally, who secured only 44 votes.

All the 103 members of the house, except former finance minister Ishaq Dar, exercised their right to vote for the Senate chairman’s election. Mr Dar has been out of the country for the past few months for ‘medical treatment’, while his recent election as senator is contested in a court.

The PML-N, which had been confident about obtaining at least 53 votes to clinch the chairman’s slot, had announced the candidates on the day of election. The ruling party that suffered a major blow in the election is yet to ascertain if those who ditched it were its allies or its own members. However, representatives of the ruling party and its allies cried foul as soon as the result was declared.

The jam-packed galleries kept resonating with slogans of Aik Zardari sab pe bhari (Zardari alone outweighs all)” amid warnings from the presiding officer, Sardar Yaqoob Nasar, who remained in the chair till the oath-taking of the new chairman Sadiq Sanjrani.

Mr Sanjrani later administered the oath to the newly elected deputy chairman Saleem Mandviwalla and presided over the remaining session.

Meanwhile, slogans in favour of PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif were also raised as the Senate staff deputed in galleries found themselves completely powerless to control the situation. A scuffle broke out between Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s son, Abdullah Abbasi, and a PTI lawmaker Hamidul Haq during the session after which the PTI member was taken out of the gallery.

Mr Sanjrani is the eighth Senate chairman and the first-ever chairman from Balochistan. His predecessors include Habib Ullah Khan, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Wasim Sajjad, Mian Mohammad Soomro, Farooq Hamid Naek, Syed Nayyar Hussain Bokhari and Mian Raza Rabbani.

The overall proceedings remained tense and even some of the speeches following elections for the two slots were bitter and fiery.

National Party President Senator Mir Hasil Bizenjo, who also holds a ministerial portfolio, said parliament stood defeated this day when it was practically proved that the ‘dominant forces’ were more powerful than the parliament.

“Today I feel ashamed to sit here,” said Mr Bizenjo, adding that parliament would have won if Raza Rabbani had been fielded as a consensus candidate.

When the chair reminded him that as per norms speeches were meant to congratulate the winners, the NP president said: “Whom should I congratulate and for what? The face of parliament had been blackened today.”

He said the assemblies of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had been turned into a market where votes were purchased. He asked the ‘dominant institutions’ and political parties to let the democracy prevail.

PkMAP’s candidate Usman Kakar was more direct in his speech when he said an intelligence agency was continuously meddling in the affairs of parliament that he said was ‘venomous for the state’.

“They want to defeat parliament and democracy. They have opened up a front in the country,” he warned and appealed to all the political parties to unite for the supremacy of parliament, rule of law and constitution and prevent interference of intelligence apparatus in politics. He said the intelligence agencies had put a question mark over the upcoming general elections, too.

He said a civilian martial law was not acceptable and declared that he would continue to struggle against what all was happening without any fear.

Former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani said it was the mission of all to ensure supremacy of parliament and the rule of law. He said a loud and clear message from parliament should be put across that the wave of parliament’s supremacy could neither be jailed nor chained.

Later, the newly elected chairman, Mr Sanjrani, announced that all independently elected senators, including those from Fata, under Rule 15 of the rules of procedure and conduct of business of the Senate could join a political party within seven days after taking the oath.

Earlier during the day, 51 of the total 52 newly elected senators took the oath, followed by submission and acceptance of nomination papers for the slots of chairman and deputy chairman of Senate.

The name of Mr Sanjrani was proposed by Senator Islamuddin Shaikh and Mohammad Azam Swati, whereas Raja Mohammad Zafar-ul-Haq’s name was proposed by Senators Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, Mir Kabeer Ahmed Mohammad Shahi, Mohammad Usman Khan Kakar, Pervez Rasheed and Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri.

Similarly, Senators Kauda Babar and Mohsin Aziz proposed Senator Saleem Mandviwalla for the election of deputy chairman of Senate. Senators Sardar Mohammad Azam Khan Musakhel, Mushahidullah and Mushahid Hussain Sayed proposed the name of Senator Mohammad Usman Khan Kakar for deputy chairman of Senate.

All the 103 members of the House, except Mr Dar, exercised their right to vote for the election of Senate chairman; the five members of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, however, did not vote for the election of deputy chairman.

Published in Dawn, March 13th, 2018