Salman Khan
Salman Khan

ISLAMABAD: Over 65 per cent of the senators who are set to retire on March 11, 2021 after completing their six-year constitutional term belong to the opposition parties.

Giving the party position in the national and provincial assemblies that form the electoral college of the Senate, the opposition parties, which have been threatening to submit en masse resignations from the assemblies as part of their ongoing anti-government campaign, will not be able to retain their majority in the upper house of parliament, even if their members do not resign from the legislatures.

The term-wise data of the senators shows that out of the 52 members retiring from the present 103-member Senate in March next year, 34 belong to the opposition parties and 18 from the treasury benches. The total strength of the Senate is 104, but former finance minister of the PML-N Ishaq Dar has not taken oath as senator since he has been living in self-exile in London along with former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

The PML-N will be the biggest loser in terms of representation in the Senate as 57 per cent of its members — the largest number belonging to a single party — are set to retire this March after completion of their six-year term. The data shows that out of its 30 present senators, 17 are set to retire in March next year.

Opposition Leader Zafarul Haq, Deputy Chairman Mandviwala, Information Minister Shibli Faraz, JI chief Sirajul Haq and parliamentary leaders of PPP and PML-N among those set to retire

Leader of the Opposition Raja Zafarul Haq, party’s parliamentary leader Mushahidullah Khan and former information minister Pervaiz Rasheed are prominent among the PML-N senators who will retire.

The data shows that eight members of the PPP are among the 52 senators who will be completing their six-year term. Deputy Senate Chairman Saleem Mandviwala, parliamentary leader Sherry Rehman, former interior minister Rehman Malik and former law minister Farooq Naek are among the eight members who will retire, out of the 21 present PPP senators.

However, the prospects for Mr Mandviwala, Mr Malik and Mr Naek to return to the Senate are bright due to the majority of the PPP in the Sindh Assembly.

Besides the PML-N and the PPP, there are two members each from the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F), National Party (NP) and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) and one each from the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M), Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) and Awami National Party (ANP) who are retiring from the Senate, which is also known as the House of the Federation. JI chief Sirajul Haq is among the retiring senators.

As far as the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) is concerned, seven of its present 14 senators — mostly from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa — are due to retire next year. The most prominent among those retiring from the PTI are federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz, Mohsin Aziz and Nauman Wazir.

The PTI, which got representation in the Senate for the first time in 2015, is not only set to improve its representation but also has the chance to become the single largest party in the house due to its numerical strength in the Punjab and KP assemblies.

Among other 18 outgoing treasury senators, four belong to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and three to the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), while four independents are from the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).

Khushbakht Shujaat, Mian Ateeq Sheikh, Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif and Nighat Mirza are the MQM senators who will be completing their terms.

Firebrand PkMAP Senator Usman Kakar is also retiring. Similarly, JUI-F’s Maulana Ataur Rehman, the brother of Maulana Fazlur Rehman, and party’s secretary general Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri are among the retiring senators.

The ANP is the only party which is on the brink of elimination from the Senate as its sole member Sitara Ayaz will also stand retired. And given the party position in the legislatures the party has almost no chance of getting any member elected to the house.

However, Ms Ayaz is a dissident of the ANP and she has not been a formal part of the opposition after she was expelled for allegedly ditching the party at the time of the voting on the failed no confidence motion against Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani.

The Senate comprises 104 members — 23 each from the four federating units, eight from Fata, and four from Islamabad. The 23 seats allocated to a province comprise 14 general seats, four reserved for women, four for technocrats and one for minority member.

The term of a senator is six years, but 50 per cent of the total number retire after every three years and elections are held for new senators. Elections to fill the seats allocated to each province are held in accordance with the “system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote”.

The upcoming Senate will comprise 98 members as there will be no elections on the four vacant seats from the country’s tribal areas after their merger with KP. Therefore, the Senate elections always depend on the party positions in the four provincial assemblies and the National Assembly.

The names of the other senators retiring on March 11, 2021 are: Agha Shahbaz Durrani, Ayesha Raza Farooq, Chaudhry Tanvir Khan, Asad Ashraf, Ghaus Muhammad Niazi, Kalsoom Parveen, Retired Lt-Gen Salahuddin Tirmizi, Retired Lt-Gen Abdul Qayyum, Javed Abbasi, Najma Hameed, Prof Sajid Mir, Rahila Magsi, Saleem Zia and Sardar Yaqoob Nasar (PML-N); Sassui Palejo, Islamuddin Sheikh, Gianchand and Mir Yousuf Badini (PPP); Retired Brig John Kenneth Williams, Liaqat Tarkai, Samina Saeed and Zeeshan Khanzada (PTI); Nighat Mirza (MQM); Sarfaraz Bugti, Manzoor Ahmed and Khalid Bizenjo (BAP); Gul Bashra (PkMAP); Ashok Kumar and Mir Kabeer Shahi (NP); Dr Jahanzeb Jamaldini (BNP-M); and, Aurangzeb Khan, Momin Khan Afridi, Sajjad Hussain Turi and Taj Muhammad Afridi (IND).

Published in Dawn, December 14th, 2020

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