ISLAMABAD Farooq Hameed Naek, a top confidant of President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday took oath as the 5th Chairman Senate since 1973 and only second from the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) which was responsible for creation of the upper house as well as the 1973 constitution.
Nominated by president Zardari, Naek was declared elected unopposed by the MQM senator Col. Retd. Tahir Hussain Mashadi as PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain withdrew his papers leaving no contestant in the field.
Naek's nomination to the coveted office had irked many party loyalists including the leader of the house in Senate Mian Raza Rabbani who has since resigned from both the offices held by him.
Similarly, Jan Muhammad Jamali retained his office as deputy chairman for a second term by becoming a consensus candidate of all parliamentarian groups after being supported by ruling PPP.
Senator Tariq Azeem information secretary of the PML-Q refuted reports that the understanding on posts of chairman and deputy chairman Senate had anything to do with an accord on formation of government in Punjab.
The PPP had its first Chairman in Habibullah Khan from the NWFP who chaired the upper house from August 6, 1973 to July 5, 1977. He was followed by Ghulam Ishaq Khan who was elected to the coveted office on March 2, 1985 when military dictator Ziaul Haq revived the upper house and remained till 1988. Wasim Sajjad became chairman senate for longest period from December 1988 to October 12, 1999 as PML-N nominee and he was succeeded by Muhammadmian Soomro who remained chairman from March 12, 2003 till March 11, 2009.
Earlier when the upper house special session started, 50 newly elected Senators took oath as members of the Upper House.
PML-N, PMAP, J.I. and other smaller parliamentary groups in the upper house boycotted the electoral process against what they termed as government's strong arm tactics to foil the long march.
Earlier, the house saw some anxious moments when JI's Prof. Ibrahim raised objection to the infamous article 270 AAA in the constitution which was created by Musharraf.
Leader of the House Mian Raza Rabbani however assured the house that the chairman and deputy chairman senate will be strictly under the 1973 constitution.
The most obvious protest against Naek's choice has come from the widely respected leader of the house in the Senate and Inter-Provincial Coordination Minister Raza Rabbani, who has sent resignations from both these offices to the prime minister though he will retain his senate seat.
The prime minister has still refused to accept the resignations which he says have been sent for 'personal reasons,' while Rabbani, who had been a confidant of assassinated PPP leader Benazir Bhutto and one of the most authentic PPP voices in parliament, remains tight-lipped about his future course of action.
But parliamentary sources said Rabbani, who had held the positions of the PPP parliamentary leader and opposition leader in the present Senate for five years and then leader of the house for the past 11 months of the present coalition government, would shift to a back seat soon whether his resignations are accepted or not.
Earlier, during the poorly attended National Assembly sitting, PML-Q member Amir Muqam condemned the police action in Karachi that he compared to May 12, 2007 deadly violence in the country's commercial capital that blocked a planned welcoming procession for then suspended Supreme Court chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry.
'The situation is getting from bad to worse,' he said, and added 'I think there is conspiracy going on against the government and parliament.'
There was no response from the government as the main focus of both the treasury and opposition benches seemed to be on the election of the new Senate chairman and deputy chairman.