'Big blow for the opposition': Journalists, politicos react to Sanjrani's shock victory in no-trust vote

Updated 01 Aug 2019

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Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani receives flowers from Firdous Ashiq Awan, the government's chief spokesperson, after he survived the no-confidence motion. — Photo courtesy Govt of Pakistan
Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani receives flowers from Firdous Ashiq Awan, the government's chief spokesperson, after he survived the no-confidence motion. — Photo courtesy Govt of Pakistan

Analysts and journalists on Thursday reacted with surprise to Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani's shock survival of the no-confidence motion against him, terming it an "upset" for the opposition that had been confident of a victory, and a win for the PTI-led government and its allies.

The opposition has a total of 67 members in the Senate. From the 64 opposition senators who partook in the no-trust vote, the opposition only needed 53 senators' votes to send Sanjrani packing. Instead, the opposition 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 falling short of a simple majority of the house, the motion was dismissed.

"Hugely embarrassing loss for the combined opposition as they fail to oust the Chairman Senate despite a clear majority in the house," tweeted journalist Gibran Peshimam.

He said Sanjrani surviving the no-confidence motion, the first such move against a Senate chairman in Pakistan's history, was a "big win for the government, which was confident from the moment this move surfaced."

Ali Salman Alvi, a columnist and broadcast journalist, termed the development a "big blow for the opposition".

"It's a huge upset from the upper house! #Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani survives no-confidence motion," he said in a tweet.

Dawn journalist Atika Rehman observed on Twitter that the motion to remove Sanjrani was the joint opposition parties’ "first tangible move" against the PTI government, in which they failed.

"What’s next? And will it stick?" she wrote.

Saying the defeat was "huge and embarrassing" for the opposition, Journalist Hasan Zaidi noted with irony that while 67 of the opposition senators had turned up for a dinner ahead of the no-confidence vote, "only 50 voted" in support of the motion.

Encapsulating the surprising result of the vote, DawnNewsTV host Zarrar Khuhro tweeted: "And such are the rules of the game #senate."

There was celebration in the government camp while allegations of foul play emerged from the opposition side.

"Mubarak Sadiq Sanjrani. Mubarak Pakistan," tweeted PTI senior leader Jahangir Tareen.

Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari also congratulated Sanjrani, noting that the resolution for his removal had been "defeated by a big margin!".

PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz, arguably one of the most vocal figures in the opposition, termed the failure of the no-trust motion a "broad daylight robbery".

"The ones with 65 votes (the opposition) lost. The ones with 36 votes won. Pakistanis, do you understand the 2018 election now?" she tweeted.

"The game of breaking a few votes through threats is not something to be proud of, it is a shameful act which cannot succeed every time. Democratic forces should snatch their right without any fear," Maryam said in another tweet.

"Forgery has to be erased one day," she added, suggesting that a fresh no-confidence motion should be introduced to de-seat Sanjrani.

PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif tweeted that during today's vote, horsetrading won and "democracy got undermined again".

"It is not just Opposition's loss. We will get down to the bottom of the matter and those who sold their conscience will be exposed," he said, referring to the opposition senators who voted against the motion to remove Sanjrani.

Maryam too sought action against the alleged turncoats, saying the "betrayers & backstabbers" should be "identified, named, shamed & sorted out".