Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani has summoned the opposition-requisitioned session of the upper house of parliament tomorrow (July 23), but only to discuss the no-confidence motion against him without any voting.
However, in a significant development, to end the prevailing uncertainty on the issue, the government now plans a regular Senate session in around 10 days for voting on the resolution to remove Sanjrani.
On the other hand, the opposition says it will insist on voting on its resolution in the session summoned by the chairman, alleging that a discussion without voting would be a violation of the rules.
The chairman summoned the session on the last day of the 14-day period after the opposition submitted the requisition, and also on the last day of the seven-day mandatory period after intimating the senators through a circular about receipt of no-confidence motion against the chairman by the Senate Secretariat.
The opposition senators had submitted the no-confidence motion against Sanjrani to the Senate Secretariat on July 9.
The ruling coalition hit back with a similar motion against Deputy Chairman of the Senate Saleem Mandviwala on July 12.
Leader of House in the Senate Shibli Faraz said the government believed that the no-confidence motion against the chairman could be taken up only in a regular sitting, as a session could be requisitioned only to discuss an important national issue of public importance and on the basis of any recent occurring.
However, Faraz said he had discussed the matter with Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Dr Arif Alvi, and the government had decided to convene a regular session for voting on the no-confidence motions against the chairman and the deputy chairman.
He said the decision to convene a regular session for voting had been made to end the uncertainty and to allow the Senate to play its role in enacting laws and discussing public issues.
He accused the opposition parties of creating this uncertainty and “acrimony” by moving the no-confidence motion against Sanjrani.
When contacted, parliamentary leader of the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Sherry Rehman expressed surprise over Faraz’s suggestion that the members would only discuss the no-confidence motion but not vote on it, during the requisitioned session.
She said that under Senate rules, Sanjrani could not even preside over the sittings following the submission of the no-confidence resolutions against him.
Faraz admitted that there is a possibility that Sanjrani might not preside over the sitting, and that someone from the panel of presiding officers might chair the sitting tomorrow, indicating that the government may not allow Deputy Chairman Mandviwala to preside over the session either, as the treasury members have also submitted a no-confidence motion against him.
When told about the government plan to convene a regular session soon for the purpose of a vote, Rehman said that a joint meeting of the opposition parties would be held today (July 22), during which they would discuss the government’s move.
On Friday the opposition parties had rejected Sanjrani’s claim that a no-confidence motion could not be taken up in a requisitioned session of the house, and warned that any uncalled-for delay in convening of a session would be a clear violation of the constitution.
Earlier this month, following a meeting, the opposition ruled out withdrawal of the no-confidence motion against Sanjrani, and declared that the change was inevitable.
The meeting had been attended by at least 54 out of the 66 opposition senators – sufficient to remove the Senate chairman if they all vote against him in secret ballot.
The opposition senators had already been told not to leave the country.
The opposition took the decision to remove Sanjrani at a multi-party conference held in Islamabad on June 26.
Speaking at a news conference after submission of the no-confidence motion, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had asked Sanjrani to voluntarily resign in the larger interest of democracy and the Parliament.
He had said then that Sanjrani had been elected as a result of the opposition’s consensus that emerged last year when the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) was the ruling party, and the PPP was sitting on opposition benches with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which was now in power.
Now, he had said, again the opposition had reached a consensus to remove the Senate chairman, adding that this was not personal and that they had respect for him.
Sanjrani has declared that he would not step down and would fight till the end.
The opposition needs 53 votes in the 104-mamber house to get the no-confidence resolution passed.
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