Sadiq Sanjrani survives no-confidence vote in shock victory; opposition falls 3 short

Published August 1, 2019
Incumbent Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani (2 R) attends session where a no-confidence motion against him will be debated. — PTV footage screengrab
Incumbent Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani (2 R) attends session where a no-confidence motion against him will be debated. — PTV footage screengrab
Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif is chairing today's Senate session. — DawnNewsTV screengrab
Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif is chairing today's Senate session. — DawnNewsTV screengrab

In a shock victory for the government and its allied parties, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani on Thursday survived a motion of no-confidence pushed by the opposition.

Mere hours before the final result, the resolution to move a no-confidence vote against Sanjrani had been passed comfortably by opposition senators, with 64 voting in its favour.

Needing only 53 of the 64 senators' votes to send Sanjrani packing, the opposition instead fell three short when the results of the secret ballot were announced.

The final vote count was 50 votes in favour of the motion, five votes rejected, and 45 cast against.

Having fallen short of a simple majority of the house, the motion was dismissed.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan promptly hailed the result as "the victory of Pakistan's narrative".

Talking to National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, Sanjrani said that he was "thankful to friends and companions who considered me a better" chairman.

"I don't know which of the 14 senators [who were part of the opposition] voted in my favour."

"This matter should end here," he said, adding that the results were "not anyone's victory or defeat".

Later, Senate Deputy Chairman Saleem Mandviwala also survived the no-confidence motion moved against him by the government due to an opposition walkout.

According to initial reports, only 32 votes could be cast in favour of the no-confidence motion. The government had required at least 53. The opposition abstained from the vote, leaving the house before its members could cast their vote.

Surprising result

This is the first time the upper house of parliament has tabled no-confidence motions against its chairman and deputy chairman. The motion against Sanjrani was submitted by opposition members last month. A similar motion was submitted by the government senators against Senate Deputy Chairman Mandviwala in a tit-for-tat move.

The opposition has a total of 67 members. PML-N's Chaudhry Tanvir, who has reportedly fallen ill, was not in attendance. Out of the remaining 66 senators, two belong to the Jamaat-i-Islami, which decided to abstain from the proceedings.

The government and its allies constituted the remaining 36 members, all of whom were present today.

Senator Javed Abbasi was appointed the polling agent on behalf of the opposition, while Senator Nauman Wazir was appointed on behalf of the government.

Also read: All eyes on unprecedented Senate vote today

At the beginning of the session, Barrister Saif directed senators who were in favour of the no-confidence resolution against Sanjrani tabled by the opposition to stand. About 64 senators had stood up in support.

Opposition Leader in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq had then moved the resolution but said that the opposition will not make any speeches even though the rules allow a debate.

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq tables no-confidence resolution against Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani in the Upper House. — DawnNewsTV screengrab
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq tables no-confidence resolution against Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani in the Upper House. — DawnNewsTV screengrab

PTI Senator Shibli Faraz had also waived his right to make a speech, saying that the government wishes for the motion to be put directly to the vote.

Following these announcements, Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif — who was chairing today's session — read out the rules for voting on the resolution. He said that the doors of the hall will remain closed as long as voting is underway.

The results of the final count of the vote, conducted through a secret ballot, dealt a major blow to the opposition's claims of having enough support.

Voting procedure

The Senate secretariat had sent a message to all the members yesterday, detailing the procedure for voting under Rule 12(10) of the rules of procedure and conduct of business in the Senate, 2012.

Senators were informed that they would move motions seeking leave to move resolutions for removal of the chairman and deputy chairman of the Senate, and if leave is granted the resolutions will be voted upon.

It said that voting on the resolution(s) shall be secret and each member will have one vote only.

The members were also told that they would not be allowed to carry mobile phones and cameras inside the polling booth. Disclosing the ballot paper or taking its photograph is strictly prohibited.

Rule 12(9) says the Senate shall not be adjourned until the motion for leave is disposed of or, if leave is granted, the resolution has been voted upon.

Rule 12(12) reads: “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.”

No-confidence resolution

The resolution — which demanded the removal of the Senate chairman under Rule 12 (Removal of Chairman or Deputy Chairman) of the Rules of Procedure in Conduct of Business in the Senate — was drawn up by PPP's Sherry Rehman and PML-N Senator Javed Abbasi and signed by members of the opposition. It was submitted last month, along with a requisition asking for a session to be called so that the resolution can be moved in the Senate.

The move was meant to be a first step towards mounting pressure on the PTI-led coalition government.

In a tit-for-tat move, government senators had also submitted a similar resolution against the deputy chairman of the upper house last month.

The joint opposition had named Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, president of the National Party (NP), as its candidate for the position of Senate chairman.

Bizenjo, who hails from Balochistan, was confident that he will "get a lot of votes" from the province. Speaking to reporters yesterday, he said that he had "won the seat the day my name was put forward" for the position.

He had also advised Sanjrani to resign voluntarily from his position.

Sanjrani, on the other hand, had refused to step down and said that he was ready to fight the resolution against him.

Meanwhile, the government had insisted that the opposition's move would fail as many opposition senators would vote for Sanjrani “in line with their conscience”.

Earlier today, Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry had declared that the move "will neither affect the government nor the prime minister".

"[The opposition's move] will only affect the Senate where Sadiq Sanjrani had maintained a balance. Whether the no-confidence motion succeeds or fails, this balance will be disturbed," he tweeted.

Opinion

Wheat import and food security
22 Oct 2021

Wheat import and food security

Wheat is the only commodity which justifies government intervention as the poor strata cannot be left at the mercy of the market
Living with Covid
Updated 22 Oct 2021

Living with Covid

Mental health professionals have been warning that Covid has brought with it a depression crisis.
Cricket aggression
Updated 22 Oct 2021

Cricket aggression

Good thinking, good plans and good execution will create a quality institution that can produce great teams.
Markets and disinformation
Updated 21 Oct 2021

Markets and disinformation

Journalists should be allowed to work freely as Pakistan's weak investor sentiment can't bear burden of an avalanche of fake news.

Editorial

Spate of attacks
Updated 22 Oct 2021

Spate of attacks

Following a near-constant decline since 2016, the year 2021 has witnessed a precipitous rise in violence-related fatalities in KP.
22 Oct 2021

Libel suits

THE outcome of two libel cases recently decided by courts in England should be edifying for the government — if it...
22 Oct 2021

Education losses

A NEW report on the education losses suffered by Pakistani children due to pandemic-induced school closures sheds...
Not just cricket
Updated 21 Oct 2021

Not just cricket

Hype surrounding the match — sold out as soon as tickets sales opened — has overshadowed the other games, as well as other teams.
Local governance
21 Oct 2021

Local governance

The court ruling restoring local institutions in Punjab should go a long way in ensuring the continuation of grassroots democracy.
21 Oct 2021

Breast cancer awareness

LIKE so many other issues relating to women’s health in Pakistan, breast cancer is not a subject of serious...