ISLAMABAD: The Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) though believes that Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani has lost the confidence of a majority in the Senate, is still undecided about its strategy during next week’s voting on the no-trust resolutions against him and his deputy Saleem Mandviwala.
The JI with its two members, including its emir Sirajul Haq, sits on the opposition benches in the Senate, but it has distanced itself from the joint opposition platform.
The party neither attended the multi-party conference (MPC) of the opposition parties that had been convened by Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman last month nor did its members sign the no-trust motion against the Senate chairman.
Talking to Dawn, naib emir of the JI Liaquat Baloch said a discussion on the issue had been going on in the party for the past few days, but so far they had not made up their mind.
Sanjrani and representatives of both government and opposition have approached JI for support
Mr Baloch said the JI believed that in principle Mr Sanjrani should step down from his office as he had lost the support of the majority of the senators after withdrawal of his support by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which had voted for Mr Sanjrani during the Senate chairman election as a joint candidate of the PPP and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).
Responding to a question, Mr Baloch stated that his party had been approached both by the government as well as the opposition members. He further disclosed that even Mr Sanjrani had contacted the JI leadership and sought their support.
In response to another question, Mr Baloch said it was due to the will of the party workers that the JI had decided to stay away from politics of alliances. He said the JI was not even a component of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), a five-party alliance of religio-political parties, including the JUI-F.
The JI members had contested the last general elections on the MMA ticket and their members in the National Assembly were shown as MMA representatives.
Mr Baloch said currently they were observing the political scenario and the overall situation in the country and would make a decision on the no-trust motions when the time would come.
Presently, he said, the party had kept all its options open and it could vote for either side or it could abstain as well. “So you can say we still have all the three options available,” he added.
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.
The opposition has already nominated National Party (NP) president Mir Hasil Bizenjo as its joint candidate for the Senate chairman’s office.
The opposition made the decision to remove the Senate chairman at the 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 the alleged political victimisation of the opposition members.
Speaking at a news conference after 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.
The PPP chairman had said Mr Sanjrani had been elected as a result of the opposition’s consensus that emerged last year when the PML-N was a ruling party and his party was sitting on the opposition benches with the PTI, which was now in power. Now, he said, again the opposition had reached a consensus to remove the Senate chairman, saying they had no personal issues with Mr Sanjrani and had respect for him.
But Mr Sanjrani has already declared he would not step down and would fight till the end.
Leader of the House in the Senate Shibli Faraz and Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani met JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman asking him to play his role in the withdrawal of no-trust motion, but they did not get a positive response from him.
The opposition requires a total of 53 votes in the 104-member 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 claims to have the support of 67 members against 36 members on the treasury benches.
Published in Dawn, July 28th, 2019