Yousaf Raza Gillani clinches Senate chairmanship as PML-N’s Syedal Khan Nasir secures deputy role

Published April 9, 2024
Senate Chairman Yousaf Raza Gillani administers the oath of deputy chairman to Syedal Khan Nasir on Tuesday. — Senate YouTube
Senate Chairman Yousaf Raza Gillani administers the oath of deputy chairman to Syedal Khan Nasir on Tuesday. — Senate YouTube
A session of the Senate was convened on Tuesday, where 41 newly elected Senators took oath. — Photo by Nadir Guramani
A session of the Senate was convened on Tuesday, where 41 newly elected Senators took oath. — Photo by Nadir Guramani

Former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani and PML-N’s Syedal Khan Nasir on Tuesday were elected unopposed as the Senate chairman and deputy chairman, respectively.

The two were elected during a session which also saw 41 newly elected senators being sworn in as members of the Upper House of Parliament amid a noisy protest by the PTI, which had boycotted the election.

The PTI’s contention, as stated by Senator Ali Zafar on the floor of the House, was that the session for electing the chairman and deputy chairman should be postponed until after Senate elections were held in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He then announced the PTI would not participate in the election for the top slots.

Almost a month ago, the Upper House became dysfunctional following the retirement of half of its members.

On April 2, elections on vacant Senate seats were held in Islamabad, Punjab and Sindh, but not in PTI-ruled KP — where polls were delayed on 11 seats due to provincial assembly Speaker Babar Saleem Swati’s refusal to administer the oath to opp­osi­t­ion lawmakers on rese­rved seats. These seats were doled out to the PPP, PML-N, and other parties after the ECP rejected a plea by the PTI and the Sunni Ittehad Council for the allocation of these seats.

Nonetheless, the ruling coalition in the Centre, led by the PML-N, swept the elections, securing 19 seats. After the elections, the coalition controls 59 of the 85 seats at present.

Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar, who had won on a technocrat seat from Islamabad on April 2, was the presiding officer for today’s session which began shortly after 9am.

PTI Senator Mohammad Humayun Mohmand objected to Dar presiding over the session, contending that a presiding officer should be someone who was already a senator.

Despite this, 41 newly elected lawmakers were then sworn in as members of the Senate. Faisal Vawda and Maulana Abdul Wasay were not present. The newly sworn in senators then signed the roll of members one by one.

The session was then briefly adjourned before the election of the chairman and the deputy chairman. In the meantime, PPP’s Saleem Mandviwalla told Dawn.com that Yousaf Raza Gilani and Saidal Nasir were elected unopposed as Senate chairman and as the deputy chairman, respectively. Later, secretary Qasim confirmed the same.

When the session resumed at 12:30pm, Dar said that only Gillani’s nomination papers had been received, therefore, he was elected the Senate chairman. The PML-N leader then administered the oath to Gillani.

In remarks following his oath-taking, the PPP leader thanked his party and the coalition partners — including the PML-N, Mutahhida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, Awami National Party, Balochistan Awami Party, National Party, and Balochistan National Party-Mengal.

Remembering the hanging of former premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a visibly emotional Gillani noted that the Supreme Court recently “acknowledged the “judicial murder and admitted this historical injustice”.

 Ishaq Dar administers oath to Senate Chairman Yousuf Raza Gilani. — DawnNewsTV
Ishaq Dar administers oath to Senate Chairman Yousuf Raza Gilani. — DawnNewsTV

“In the present moment, the crisis is deep. Pakistan faces an assault of those who seek to divide and polarise us, those who seek to incite hatred, those who seek to replace norms of civility and abuse democracy and demagoguery,” he said.

“The PPP has always rejected politics of hate and preferred politics of reconciliation and of the welfare of the people,” he stated.

“I will be the chairman of the Senate of the entire House and my ambition is to build bridges, enable dialogue and provide a space which allows for meaningful, robust discussion and disagreements within the norms of parliamentary conventions and most importantly, for the progress of the country,” Gillani asserted.

He then announced Nasir’s win as Senate deputy chairman as only one nomination had been filed. PML-N’s Azam Nazeer Tarar and PPP’s Sherry Rehman had nominated Nasir, Gillani said.

Subsequently, the Senate chairman administered the oath of office to Nasir. The session was then adjourned indefinitely.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif congratulated the new custodians of the House, terming their elections the “continuation of the democratic process”.

According to a post on X, PM Shehbaz expressed the hope that Gillani and Nasir would fulfil their duty for the “supremacy of the Constitution and the country’s development”.

“The role of the Senate is highly important for the strengthening of the federal units and the observance of democratic values,” the premier emphasised.

Later today, PM Shehbaz appointed Dar as the leader of the House.

According to a notification issued by the Senate secretariat, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the PML-N leader was appointed to “act as Leader of the House on behalf of the prime minister to represent the government and to regulate government business in the Senate with effect from April 9”.

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