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Friday Aug 02 2019

What exactly happened in the Senate on Thursday?

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan presenting a bouquet to Sadiq Sanjrani after the defeat of no-confidence resolution against him as Chairman Senate. Photo: APP  

It’s been 16 months since a relatively unknown politician from Balochistan – Sadiq Sanjrani was elected Senate chairman despite having limited support. But on Thursday (August 1, 2019) Sanjrani became the most talked-about politician when he miraculously survived a no-confidence resolution by an opposition in the majority.

When the Senate session began, 64 senators stood up in support of the resolution to be tabled. Sanjrani, everyone in the Senate and those watching the proceedings at home would not have been surprised if the chairman would no longer hold his post. But, in Pakistani politics things are turned upside down in a matter of minutes. Sadiq Sanjrani survived the no-confidence resolution and literally stole victory from the jaws of defeat. This was due to 14 unknown opposition senators who apparently betrayed their parties. It was the government which stole the show on this day with whispers rampant in the galleries. Everyone was wondering what had taken place in the Senate.

The voting process was peaceful with senators being called by name to cast their ballot. When the counting finished, there was a sudden thumping of desks with slogans of ‘Sanjrani Zindabad’ echoing in the house. The celebrations from the treasury benches continued despite the repeated request of Barrister Saif not to make the hall noisy. A few minutes after, Barrister Saif announced the result that the resolution had received 50 voters, three shy of what was required to remove Sanjrani.

As the announcement was being made, hundreds of visitors sitting in the gallery including journalists, diplomats, politicians, thinkers and lawyers were stunned to know that Sanjrani survived.

"God do mercy on me. I'm here with same old feelings," Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani told this correspondent. "It has to happen, what happened today [Thursday]," he added.

A senator from PML-N, who this correspondent met at Senate, was in firm belief that a couple of his colleagues betrayed the party leadership. "We must expose such souls [senators] who voted against Mir Hasil Bizenjo in the Senate," he said and sought anonymity. Then it was another Pakistan Peoples Party senator who claimed that "horse-trading happened, a few senators' loyalty was bought to get the desired result in Senate today [Thursday]--otherwise, Sanjrani fate was a done deal."

The senators from treasury benches looked happy and they all were celebrating the victory in the Parliament. "Sanjrani's victory gives a strong message that the opposition is divided and weak and their narrative was even not bought by their own senators," said a PTI Senator.

"We'd chalk a fresh strategy, come up with some new colours and would conquer. Come what may we would again be bringing a no-confidence motion soon," said a Senator from JUI-F seeking anonymity.

After all, it is a big victory for Balochistan again today and we all would continue to work on old salary in Senate of Pakistan, said a Senator from Balochistan who voted against Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani on Thursday. But his party was part of the ruling party. Faces of all opposition parties' top leaders looked worried and one could witness their anxiety. They, however, all pledged to sit together again to form a new strategy on how to form a stronger opposition to pile up pressure on the government in coming months for a great state cause. 

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