Senate Chairman-Deputy Chairman survived no-confidence resolutions

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ISLAMABAD: Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani and Deputy Chairman Saleem Mandviwalla survived no-confidence resolutions tabled against them. At the start of the session, 64 senators stood up in support of the motion to table no-confidence resolution against Sanjrani, following which the polling kicked off in the Upper House. There were 100 senators attending the session when Raja Zafarul Haq tabled the resolution against the incumbent chairman.

According to the rules, both chairman and deputy chairman could not chair the session, hence President Arif Alvi had nominated Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) to chair the session. Senator Javed Abbasi was appointed the polling agent on behalf of the opposition, while Senator Nauman Wazir was appointed on behalf of the government.

Secret voting on the no-confidence motion took place in the Upper House. A total of 53 votes were required to remove the Senate chairman but the opposition failed to maintain unity in their ranks and some of their members slipped. Needing only 53 of the 64 senators’ votes to send Sanjrani packing, the opposition instead fell three short when the results of the secret ballot were announced. Fifty votes were cast in favour of the no-confidence motion against Sanjrani, thus the resolution was not adopted in the Senate. Five votes were rejected, while 45 cast against.

Leader of the House in Senate Syed Shibli Faraz then moved a motion requesting leave to move a resolution for the removal of Saleem Mandviwala as deputy chairman of the Senate. The resolution stated, “Whereas Senator Saleem Mandviwala has ceased to command confidence of majority of members of Senate as Deputy Chairman, House resolves and declares that Senator Saleem Mandviwala has ceased to hold the office of Deputy Chairman, Senate of Pakistan.” A total of 36 members rose in favour of the motion against Mandviwalla and, consequently, leave to move the motion was granted.

The opposition staged a walkout as the resolution was read out. Only five opposition members, including Mandviwalla himself, cast their votes. The final count showed 32 votes were cast in favour of the resolution to de-seat Mandviwalla, well short of the 53 required for the motion to carry.

The Senate secretariat had sent a message to all the members on Wednesday, detailing the procedure for voting under Rule 12(10) of the rules of procedure and conduct of business in the Senate, 2012. Senators were informed that they would move motions seeking leave to move resolutions for removal of the chairman and deputy chairman of the Senate, and if leave is granted, the resolutions will be voted upon. It said that voting on the resolution(s) shall be secret and each member will have one vote only. The members were also told that they would not be allowed to carry mobile phones and cameras inside the polling booth. Disclosing the ballot paper or taking its photograph was strictly prohibited.

This is the first time the Upper House has tabled no-confidence motions against its chairman and deputy chairman. The motion against Sanjrani was submitted by opposition members last month. A similar motion was submitted by the government senators against Deputy Chairman Mandviwala in a tit-for-tat move. The opposition’s Rehbar Committee had nominated Mir Hasil Bizenjo as its candidate to replace Sanjrani.

“I am thankful to both treasury and opposition benches for voting for me,” Sanjrani said after the voting. “I don’t know which of the 14 senators [who were part of the opposition] voted in my favour. This matter should end here,” he said, adding that the results are ‘not anyone’s victory or defeat’.

Speaking to reporters, PTI’s Senator Faisal Javed said there was no charge sheet against Sanjrani. “Everyone was happy with Sanjrani’s conduct. The reason for the resolution was that Prime Minister Imran Khan would not give opposition an NRO,” he said.

Senator Shibli Faraz asserted that the opposition’s attempt to de-seat Sanjrani failed. “Majority of the opposition members were not trusting Hasil Bizenjo as the proposed leader of the house,” he said.

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