ISLAMABAD: The opposition on Thursday ruled out withdrawal of a no-trust motion against Senate Chairman Mohammad Sadiq Sanjrani and declared that the change was inevitable.
The resolve was expressed at a meeting attended by at least 54 out of the 66 opposition senators — sufficient to remove the Senate chairman if they practically vote against him in the secret ballot. The meeting, which appeared to be a show of power, was presided over by Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Raja Mohammad Zafarul Haq.
Informed sources told Dawn that the opposition decided to go ahead with its move and counter what it called a continuous disinformation campaign launched by the government. The opposition senators were told not to leave the country. The meeting rejected as ridiculous a claim made by Mr Sanjrani in a letter sent to Pakistan People Party’s parliamentary leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman that a no-confidence motion could not be moved in a requisitioned session and decided that a response to the letter would be given on Friday (today) after a meeting of parliamentary leaders of opposition parties in the Senate and legal experts.
Stages show of power, accuses government of indulging in ‘horse-trading plus’
Raja Zafarul Haq briefed the huddle on the strategy to remove Mr Sanjrani from office.
Sherry Rehman told the meeting that preserving the prestige of the Senate was not a duty of the opposition alone, adding that the government’s claim that it would defeat the no-confidence motion was nothing short of an admission of indulgence in horse-trading. “This is called horse-trading plus,” she remarked.
The PPP senator indirectly alleged that efforts were being made to blackmail and lure some of the opposition members. She said the opposition had 66 members in the house and the claim to defeat the motion meant that they were trying to do something illegal.
Later, talking to reporters, Ms Rehman wondered if the government was so confident about defeating the no-trust motion, why they were trying to persuade the opposition to withdraw the motion and hiding behind grey areas in the law. “It only means that they have lost confidence in their ability to do it”.
She said the Senate chairman should have voluntarily resigned when he had undoubtedly lost confidence of members.
Talking to reporters, Mushahidullah Khan of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz said no pressure or threat would work and the opposition would remain united. He said removal of the Senate chairman would be the beginning of the incumbent government’s ouster.
The opposition’s joint candidate for the office of Senate chairman Mir Hasil Bizenjo expressed the confidence that the attempt to reduce the opposition’s numbers in the house would fail. He accused Prime Minister Imran Khan of violating the Constitution. “Do horse-trading and blackmailing to counter the opposition’s movement not amount to violation of the Constitution?” he asked.
Mr Bizenjo said nobody would be allowed to violate the Constitution, adding that the Constitution and rules of business must prevail.
Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2019