Pak­istan op­po­si­tion can­di­dates win Se­nate top slots


IS­LAM­ABAD: The mem­bers of Pak­istan’s Se­nate on Mon­day elected by a ma­jor­ity vote the op­po­si­tion­backed Sadiq San­jrani and Saleem Mand­vi­wala as chair­man and deputy chair­man, re­spec­tively.

Un­der the Se­nate elec­tion rules, the Up­per House of Par­lia­ment elects the chair­man and deputy chair­man by se­cret bal­lot.

Balochis­tan Sen­a­tor San­jrani se­cured 57 votes out of a to­tal of 103 cast for the seat of Chair­man Se­nate, de­feat­ing the rul­ing party Pak­istan Mus­lim League’s (PML-N) Raja Za­farul-Haq who re­ceived only 46 votes.

For the seat of Deputy Chair­man Se­nate, Pak­istan Peo­ple’s Party (PPP) can­di­date Saleem Mand­vi­wala got 54 votes out of the to­tal of 98 cast by the mem­bers, de­feat­ing the rul­ing party-backed Us­man Khan Kakar, who re­ceived 44 votes.

San­jrani thus be­comes the firstever chair­man Se­nate from Balochis­tan and he was sworn in on Mon­day evening. He later ad­min­is­tered the oath to the deputy chair­man Saleem Mand­vi­wala.

The Se­nate’s usual quiet­ness was in­ter­rupted briefly by chants from po­lit­i­cal work­ers present in the gal­leries when the Pre­sid­ing Of­fi­cer an­nounced San­jrani’s vic­tory. The mar­gin of vic­tory of both the can­di­dates, chair­man and deputy chair­man Se­nate, was a sur­prise to many as po­lit­i­cal ob­servers had pre­dicted a neck-and-neck race.

Shortly af­ter be­ing sworn in, the chair­man Se­nate presided over the pro­ceed­ings of the House. The run­ner-up can­di­date, Raja Za­far-ul-Haq con­grat­u­lated San­jrani on his vic­tory and as­sured him of full co­op­er­a­tion in tak­ing care of the House’s daily business.

“We will co­op­er­ate with you to run all af­fairs of the House smoothly,” Za­far-ul-Haq as­sured the new­ly­elected chair­man Se­nate.

Sadiq San­jrani is a resident of Chaghi in Balochis­tan and has pre­vi­ously served in many po­lit­i­cal po­si­tions, in­clud­ing co­or­di­na­tor of the com­plaint cell in the Prime Minister’s sec­re­tariat.

He was nom­i­nated by Chief Minister Balochis­tan Ab­dul Qud­dus Bi­jenzo for the top slot and was backed by two ma­jor op­po­si­tion par­ties, the PPP and Pak­istan Tehreek-eIn­saf (PTI).

The newly-elected Deputy Chair­man Se­nate Saleem Mand­vi­wala has served as Fi­nance Minister, in ad­di­tion to serv­ing as president of the Board of In­vest­ment and minister of state for in­vest­ment in the pre­vi­ous PPP govern­ment.

The elec­tion of the op­po­si­tion­backed can­di­dates for the cov­eted jobs is a ma­jor set­back to the rul­ing party. The op­po­si­tion emerged as the sin­gle largest party in the March 3 Se­nate elec­tions, but failed to get sup­port of the re­quired num­bers to win the top posts. Talk­ing to me­dia per­sons af­ter the elec­tion, Minister of State for In­for­ma­tion and Broad­cast­ing Mar­riyum Au­rangzeb said that the elec­tion re­sult has vin­di­cated the stance of the de­posed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

“This was a com­pe­ti­tion be­tween demo­cratic and un­demo­cratic forces. We have lost the elec­tion but suc­ceeded in ex­pos­ing them to the nation,” she said.

The minister said that her party would win the up­com­ing gen­eral elec­tions with a thump­ing ma­jor­ity as the peo­ple were sup­port­ing the nar­ra­tive of Nawaz Sharif. “We want all to re­spect the sanc­tity of the vote and we will keep fight­ing for it,” she said.

Ear­lier in the day, 51 of 52 sen­a­tors who were elected on March 3 took the oath and signed the mem­ber rolls. Sen. Ishaq Dar of the rul­ing party was un­able to take the oath due to his be­ing in Lon­don for med­i­cal treat­ment.

Sadiq San­jrani (Files/AP)

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