PPP's Bukhari, Baloch elected Senate chief, deputy unopposed
13 March, 2012
ISLAMABAD: After the oath-taking ceremony of 54 new senators, the PPP-led coalition government got a gift on Monday from the opposition which did not submit any nomination paper to challenge the candidature of Syed Nayyar Hussain Bukhari and Sabir Baloch and thus paved the way for the unopposed election of Bukhari as Senate chairman and Baloch as deputy chairman.
President Zardari nominated Afrasiab Khattak as presiding officer to conduct the ceremony. He also administrated the oath to newly elected Senate chairman Nayyar Bukhari. Later Bukhari administrated oath to his deputy, Sabir Baloch. PPP workers, who occupied the visitors' gallery in the Senate, raised slogans of 'Jiye Bhutto', 'Ik Zardari sab pe bhari' and 'sher ka shikari - Zardari, Zardari'.
These slogans were raised in contradiction to new rules and procedures passed by the Senate last week disallowing anybody from raising any kind of slogans either in the house or in the galleries. "It is sad that the rules were violated on the first day of the new parliamentary year of the Senate and that too by workers of the ruling party," said an insider.
Amid the high-pitched slogans of PPP workers, PML-N senator Syed Zafar Ali Shah protested and asked the presiding officer to stop the sloganeering. But despite Shah's protest, the slogans continued and he walked out of the house. When PPP senators came to the rostrum to sign their membership rolls, PPP workers seated in the galleries once again began their chanting. Even newly elected senator of the PPP, Saeed Ghani, raised the slogan of 'Jiye Bhutto' when he approached the rostrum.
Following in his footsteps, ANP senator Shahi Syed also raised the slogan of 'Jiye Wali' and MQM senator Colonel (retd) Tahir Mashadi raised the slogan of 'Jiye Altaf' after signing their membership rolls.
Interestingly, when the session was to resume again for the election of the Senate chairman, PPP chief whip Senator Islamuddin Sheikh requested the PPP workers not to raise the slogans, but his request went unheeded and workers in the visitors' galleries began chanting when the presiding officer announced the unopposed election of Syed Nayyar Bukhari as Senate chairman.
In their facilitation speeches, the senators extended support to the newly elected chairman for his role as the custodian of house. The issue of Balochistan, missing person and mutilated bodies dominated the speeches of the senators.
In his remarks before reading out the prorogation order, Senate chairman Nayyar Bukhari said he would be loyal to his oath and fulfill its responsibility in a neutral way. Sharing his experience as a leader of the house in the Senate, he said in previous years, the absence of federal ministers during the question hour session was the main problem and he hoped that ministers would now accord more importance to the question hour. "I also hope that Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani will attend Senate sessions," he added.
In his speech, Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haidri said the opposition had given a goodwill message to the government by not fielding its candidates for the posts of chairman and deputy chairman.
PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain said conspiracies were hatched to stop the Senate elections, paying tribute to President Asif Ali Zardari for his role in the holding of elections on time.
Senator Farhatullah Babar said: "Nayyar Bokhari's election by all political parties from across the political spectrum is a demonstration of the trust reposed in him which also poses a great challenge for him".
He said democratic and political workers would like to see Nayyar Bokhari remembered as a chairman who encouraged open discussion and debate in the house. Babar said political power belonged to parliament and the people, but over the past decades the substance of power had also shifted to non-political forces resulting in an imbalance between political and non-political elements.
Babar Ghauri extended congratulations on behalf of his party to the chairman and deputy chairman for their unanimous elections. "We have to make a pledge that we will work together for resolution of the problems being faced by the people and to improve the image of the country," he added.
Aitzaz Ahsan, welcoming minority members in the Senate, said the word 'minorities' should be replaced with 'better Pakistanis.' He stressed the need for legislation on the role of the agencies.
PML-Q's Mushahid Hussain Sayed said this House would decide the destiny of the country. On the issue of Balochistan, he said only dialogue was a way forward to resolve the Balochistan issue. "When we can talk with India then why not with our own people?" he asked.
Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo said the chairman and deputy chairman of the Senate were elected on merit and for this the PPP deserved congratulations. He said with the inclusion of Aitzaz Ahsan, Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Farhatullah Babar, Saifullah Magsi, Mustafa Kamal and Zulfiqar Khosa, the Senate would play an active role for the betterment of the country and the nation.
Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah said the Senate had paramount importance in a democracy, adding that political parties should create consensus on major political issues like the economy, unemployment, poverty and the war on terror to address these challenges.
Haji Muhammad Adeel said the upper house had equal representation of the federating units; hence it was in a better position to resolve the problems of the people.
Jahangir Badr thanked the members of the Senate on behalf of the Pakistan People's Party for supporting and unanimously electing PPP candidates for the posts of chairman and deputy chairman.
Senator Ishaq Dar said he was confident that the new Senate chairman and deputy chairman would take along the treasury and opposition benches. "We have to sit together to resolve the issues relating to Balochistan and end the sense of deprivation among the people of the province," he added.
APP adds: President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani on Monday congratulated Syed Nayyar Hussain Bukhari and Sabir Ali Baloch for their election as chairman and deputy chairman. In separate messages, they expressed satisfaction over the continuation of the democratic process in the country.