Historic trifecta as Gilani wins Senate chair

In Local
April 10, 2024


Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarian’s (PPPP) Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Syedal Khan Nasir were elected unopposed as the chairman and deputy chairman of the Senate, respectively, on Tuesday amid boycott from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

This victory marks Gilani’s ascent to a historic trifecta, having previously held the positions of the National Assembly speaker and the prime minister, and now the Senate chairman. In his acceptance speech, Gilani vowed that he would not compromise on the dignity of the house or its members.

During the Senate session, chaired by Ishaq Dar, 41 newly-elected senators took oath amid a noisy protest by the PTI, which termed the election for the two top posts “unconstitutional” due to an “incomplete house” and demanded postponement of the chairman and deputy chairman’s elections.

The PTI lawmakers were protesting because the Elections Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had postponed the Senate elections to the extent of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s (K-P) 11 seats after the newly-elected lawmakers on reserved seats were not allowed to take oath before the recently-held Senate elections.

At the outset, Senator Ali Zafar of the PTI argued that the session, convened to elect the chairman and deputy chairman, be postponed until Senate elections were held in K-P Assembly. He then announced the boycott of election in line with a party decision taken a day ago.

Saying that the elections of the chairman and the deputy chairman were being made “controversial”, Zafar blamed the ECP for taking controversial decisions. He reiterated his demand that the session should be adjourned until senators from KP were elected to complete house.

In response to Zafar’s arguments, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar referred to the Article 60 of the Constitution, stating that elections for the posts of the Senate chairman and the deputy chairman were mandatory as soon as the two posts become vacant.

The law minister emphasised that Senate elections weren’t delayed in K-P because of any calamity, but because the K-P government ignored the directions given by the Peshawar High Court (PHC) and the ECP regarding administering the oath to the lawmakers elected on the reserved seats.

Previously, Tarar recalled, Raza Rabbani and Abdul Ghafoor Haideri were elected on the same positions in 2015 when an objection was raised against the election, owing to the absence of four senators from the then Federally Administered Tribal Areas (ex-Fata).

Nevertheless, he added, the house had gone ahead. He stressed that the absence of a member did not invalidate the proceedings. Tarar once again blaming the PTI for creating obstacles in the election of senators from K-P. Subsequently, the chair overruled that the PTI’s objection.

Earlier, 41 newly-elected lawmakers were sworn in as members of the Senate. The newly senators then signed the roll of the members one by one. However, two new senators, Faisal Vawda and Maulana Abdul Wasay, were not present in the inaugural session.

Since no candidates other than Gilani and Nasir, submitted the nomination papers for the coveted Senate posts, they were elected unopposed. Initially, Gilani was elected and administered the oath by presiding officer Dar. Subsequently, Gilani administered oath to Nasir after assuming charge.

In his maiden address, Gilani said that the Senate not only presented diversity and show the strength of the nation. In his speech, the newly-elected Senate chairman emphasised that he would not compromise on the dignity of the house or its members.

Calling the current crises as deep, Gilani said that Pakistan was currently facing an assault from those who sought division by increasing polarisation, inciting hatred and abusing democracy. To him, the most dangerous thing was the attempt to sow hatred among the people through polarisation and incitement.

The PPPP stalwart, however, shared that his ambition was to build bridges, enable dialogue and provide space for disagreements within the parliamentary norms for the progress of the country.

He recalled that as prime minister, he faced several crises, but managed to steady the ship. He added that he would continue to do so during his stint as the Senate chairman.

“InshaAllah, we will succeed in returning the Senate to its real glory as a powerful legislative house. By the grace of Allah, I have held high regard whether in the Prime Minister house or in the prison,” he said.

In his speech, Gilani also talked about the “judicial murder” of former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, saying that the Supreme Court had recently admitted its historical injustice to the man, who had given the Constitution to the country.

Leader of the House

Meanwhile, according to a notification issued by the Senate Secretariat, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif appointed Senator Ishaq Dar as the Leader of the House to “represent the government and to regulate government business in the Senate”.

Separately, Prime Minister Shehbaz congratulated Gilani and Nasir on their election. “It is hoped that you will play your role for the upliftment of the Constitution and the development of the country,” Shehbaz said in a statement.

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