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Move to oust Senate chairman under way, says Mandviwalla

Updated January 12, 2019

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Support of 53 members is required to remove the Senate chairman, currently, the PPP, PML-N, NP and JUI-F have 46.— APP/File
Support of 53 members is required to remove the Senate chairman, currently, the PPP, PML-N, NP and JUI-F have 46.— APP/File

ISLAMABAD: In a move that may further deepen the political crisis surrounding parliament amid a widening gap between ruling and opposition parties, Senate deputy chairman Saleem Mandviwalla on Friday confirmed reports that efforts were under way to remove Senate chairman Sadiq Sanjrani from his office.

Speaking at a press conference at his official residence, the deputy chairman referred to the recent meetings of former president Asif Ali Zardari with Maulana Fazlur Rahman and Mir Hasil Bizenjo and said a no-trust motion against the incumbent chairman of the Senate would be brought if opposition parties including the Pakistan Peoples Party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, National Party and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl) took a collective decision.

Section 11 of rules of procedure and conduct of business in the Senate-2012 explains the procedure as to how the chairman and the deputy chairman can be removed from their office. “(1) Not less than one-fourth of the total membership of the house may give to the secretary notice in writing of a motion for leave to move a resolution under Article 61 read with paragraph (c) of clause (7) of Article 53 of the Constitution for the removal from office of the chairman or the deputy chairman and the secretary shall forthwith circulate the notice to the members. The chairman or, as the case may be, the deputy chairman shall not preside over a sitting of the senate in which a resolution for his removal from office is fixed for consideration. Voting on the resolution shall be by secret ballot which shall be held in such manner as the presiding officer may direct. The chairman or, as the case may be, deputy chairman shall stand removed from his office on the resolution being passed by a majority of the total membership of the Senate.”

That means support of 53 members is required to remove the Senate chairman. Currently, the PPP, PML-N, NP and JUI-F have 46 members in the Senate, while there are 29 independent senators. The Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party has two members, while the Awami National Party, Balochistan Awami Party and PML-Functional have one member each. The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has 14 members. Muttahida Qaumi Movement has five and Jamaat-i-Islami has two senators.

The opposition in the Senate is in a comfortable position to remove the Senate chairman and bring in a replacement of its choice. Informed sources, however, told Dawn that the PML-N had so far no intention to become part of such a move.

When asked to comment on the reports suggesting that he had developed differences with Mr Sanjrani, Mr Mandviwalla said they had a difference of opinion. “When he says something, I have to give my viewpoint,” he remarked.

“But we are still on speaking terms,” he added.

The deputy chairman told the press conference that his arrest warrants had been issued in a defamation case, which had been filed more than a year back. He said a defamation notice had been issued to him by Jehangir Siddiqui and his son, Ali Jehangir Siddiqui, for his tweet that Ali Jehangir Siddiqui had been appointed ambassador to the United States as his father was a partner of then prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in his private airline.

He said the same observation had been made by Finance Minister Asad Umar in a TV show.

He said a person had been sent to him, threatening him to withdraw the tweet about the partnership or face consequences. He said he had asked Senate chairman Sadiq Sanjrani to take notice of the matter. Being the deputy chairman of the Senate, he would be the first person to oppose any individual, institution or court if a false case was registered against a member of the Senate, he said.

Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2019