ISLAMABAD: In a significant development, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) have agreed to remove Senate Chairman Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani and the new name will be considered after consultation with the opposition parties.
Sources revealed to The Express Tribune that the understanding was reached in a meeting between PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz on Sunday in Lahore. One of the participants of the meeting also confirmed that both parties have agreed to oust chairman senate and that the name of new candidate will be considered after discussion with all opposition parties.
Incumbent Chairman Senate Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani was elected with the support of PPP and Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) last year as he had bagged 57 votes against 46 by Raja Zafarul Haq of PML-N.
PML-N is still a majority party in the Senate. Interestingly, the Nawaz league had offered PPP to re-elect Raza Rabbani as Senate chairman but then it opted to join hands with PTI in the elections.
It is learnt that the opposition in the Senate is in a comfortable position to remove the Senate chairman and bring in a replacement of its choice. The chairman senate’s post is significant to regulate the upper house. Likewise, in the absence of President of Pakistan, Senate chairman is the acting president of the country.
A majority of 53 members is required to remove the Senate chairman. Currently, PPP, PML-N, National Party and Jamiat Ulema i Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) have 46 members in the Senate, while there are 29 independent senators. The Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) has two members, while the Awami National Party (ANP), Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and PML-Functional have one member each. The ruling PTI has 14 members. Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has five and Jamaat i Islami (JI) has two senators.
Procedure for removal
Section 11 of rules of procedure and conduct of business in the Senate-2012 explains the procedure as to how the chairman and the deputy chairman can be removed from their office. “(1) Not less than one-fourth of the total membership of the house may give to the secretary notice in writing of a motion for leave to move a resolution under Article 61 read with paragraph (c) of clause (7) of Article 53 of the Constitution for the removal from office of the chairman or the deputy chairman and the secretary shall forthwith circulate the notice to the members. The chairman or, as the case may be, the deputy chairman shall not preside over a sitting of the Senate in which a resolution for his removal from office is fixed for consideration. Voting on the resolution shall be by secret ballot, which shall be held in such manner as the presiding officer may direct. 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.”
ANP demands removal of chairman senate
The ANP has demanded the removal of Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani. Talking to media, ANP leader Zahid Khan urged the opposition parties to bring a no-confidence motion against the chairman.
The ANP leader said that initiation of movement against the government should start with the removal of the Senate chairman and a joint candidate should be brought for the position afterwards.
He also said that if Bilawal and Maryam are serious to launch an anti-government drive, then they should remove the chairman and that his party will stand with the opposition on the issue.
He added that if the Sanjrani is not de-seated, then people will not trust Bilawal and Maryam Nawaz, therefore, to restore the confidence of the opposition parties, the removal is mandatory.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz agreed in their meeting at the Sharif family’s Jati Umra residence on Sunday that it was time to take down the government as the budget it had proposed would “cause irreparable damage to the country”.
They refreshed their resolve to launch a movement against the government at the earliest.
Bilawal and Maryam alleged that the government had filed references against judges as a pressure tactic and demanded that they should be withdrawn.
They agreed to stand firm in the struggle for the independence of the judiciary.
The two leaders also demanded that the production orders of all detained members of the national and provincial assemblies should be issued immediately so that they could represent the people who had elected them to their offices.
According to a statement issued after the meeting, the PML-N and the PPP decided that allowing the “incompetent” PTI regime to move ahead with its budget would cause “irreparable damage” to the country and that was why an anti-government movement was necessary.
The two sides also decided that other opposition parties as well as the coalition partners of the PTI that were unhappy with the government’s performance would be taken into confidence to chalk out a joint strategy.
Bilawal and Maryam agreed to devise a final plan after consulting the other leaders of their parties.
The senior leadership of the PML-N was absent from the meeting lending credence to reports that Maryam has informally taken over party affairs from her uncle and party president Shehbaz Sharif to run a movement against the government. The existence of two camps and two approaches within PML-N is an open secret that the party vehemently denies.