Pakistan: Gov’t, opp. battle chairman senate post

By Aamir Latif

KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) – Following a no-confidence motion against the Chairman of Senate (Upper House) in Pakistan, the government and the opposition are engaged in a bitter race to claim the post.

A combined opposition on Thursday nominated Senator Hasil Bazinjo, a senior politician from northwestern Balochistan province to contest for the office, the third highest rank in the country in protocol terms after the president and the prime minister.

The opposition parties led by Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), earlier this week submitted a no-confidence motion against the Chairman Senate, Sadiq Sanjrani, who also hails from Balochistan.

Addressing a press conference, Akram Durrani, head of opposition's steering committee, announced the candidature of Bazinjo, head of the National Party – a small Baloch nationalist group, which has an influence in the coastal belt of Balochistan, including strategic town of Gwadar.

Statistically, the opposition seems to sail through with a comfortable majority. Out of 108 members in the house, the opposition enjoys support of 66 senators. The PML (N) of jailed Nawaz Sharif is the largest party in the upper house with 30 senators, followed by the PPP and the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) of Prime Minister Imran Khan with 20 and 16 lawmakers respectively.

All opposition parties, except Jamat-e-Islami (JI), the country's mainstream religious party are supporting Bazinjo. The JI has 2 senators, including its chief Siraj-ul-Haq.

Sanjrani is backed by the PTI, and its allies, making up a total strength of 36 senators. He was elected as Chairman of the upper house in 2018 with the support of the PPP.

Despite opposition having a comfortable majority, political analysts are keeping their fingers crossed. They do not rule out any surprise, as the voting will take place through a secret ballot. Sanjrani is believed enjoying the support of country's powerful army as well.