ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi has summoned the Senate session on Aug 1 for voting on the resolutions for removal of Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani and Deputy Chairman Saleem Mandviwala.
According to a notification issued by the Senate Secretariat here on Sunday, the president has summoned the session of the upper house of parliament “for taking up motions for leave to move resolutions for removal of (the) chairman and (the) deputy chairman Senate, in pursuance of the summary sent by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs”.
The opposition senators had submitted the no-trust motion against Mr Sanjrani to the Senate Secretariat on July 9. The ruling coalition hit back with a similar motion against the deputy chairman on July 12.
Leader of the House in the Senate Shibli Faraz had already stated that the government had no intention to delay the voting on the resolutions against the chairman and deputy chairman in order to end the present uncertainty and allow the Senate to play its role in doing legislative work and discussing public issues. He accused the opposition parties of creating this uncertainty and “acrimony” by moving the no-trust motion against Mr Sanjrani.
Govt-moved resolution against deputy chairman also to be voted in the same session
The Senate chairman had already summoned the opposition-requisitioned session on Tuesday (tomorrow), but the government says that this sitting has been convened only to discuss the no-trust motions against the chairman and his deputy without any voting.
Since the Senate rules are silent, both the government and the opposition have taken different positions on the issue of voting on the no-trust motion against the Senate chairman. The government says that a no-trust motion can be taken up only during a regular sitting as a session can only be requisitioned to discuss some important national issue of public importance and on the basis of any recent occurring.
On the other hand, the opposition says it will insist on voting on its resolution in Tuesday’s session, alleging that discussion without voting will be a violation of the rules. The opposition says it had submitted the no-trust resolution against the Senate chairman with a requisition notice for convening the session for a vote on it.
The opposition parties have convened another meeting on Monday (today) to devise a strategy for the two upcoming sessions.
When contacted, parliamentary leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Sherry Rehman said a grand meeting of all opposition parties would be held on Monday (today) in which they would discuss the new situation after the summoning of two different sessions and to devise their strategy. She said that under the rules, Mr Sanjrani could not even preside over the sittings after the submission of no-trust resolution against him.
Shibli Faraz, however, said there was a possibility that Mr Sanjrani might not preside over the session and someone from the panel of presiding officers would chair the Tuesday sitting, indicating that the government might not allow Deputy Chairman Mandviwala to preside over the session as he was also facing a no-confidence resolution.
Earlier, after a grand meeting, the opposition had ruled out withdrawal of the no-trust motion and declared that the change was inevitable. The meeting had been attended by at least 54 opposition senators — sufficient to remove the Senate chairman if they practically vote against him in the secret ballot.
Mr Sanjrani, who had become senator as an independent candidate from Balochistan for the first time in March last year, had been elected Senate chairman when the PPP had joined hands with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) to prevent the then ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) from getting the two top offices despite being the single largest party in the Senate.
The opposition took the decision to remove the Senate chairman at a multi-party conference (MPC) held in Islamabad on June 26 to discuss the options of launching a full-fledged anti-government movement in the wake of present economic crisis and alleged political victimisation of the opposition members.
Speaking at a news conference after the submission of the no-trust motion, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had asked Mr Sanjrani to voluntarily resign from the office in the larger interest of democracy and parliament.
On the other hand, Mr Sanjrani had declared that he would not step down and would fight till the end.
The opposition requires a total of 53 votes in the 104-mmber house to get the no-trust resolution passed. Given the party position, the opposition should face no difficulty in getting Mr Sanjrani removed from the office as it enjoys the support of 67 members against 36 members on the treasury benches.
Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), which had contested the last general elections from the platform of Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal with Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F), is the only party sitting on the opposition benches which has so far not announced whether or not it would support the no-trust motion against Mr Sanjrani. The JI, with two senators, had also stayed away from the last month’s MPC of the opposition parties.
Published in Dawn, July 22nd, 2019