PDM Experiences a Rude Awakening

In recent news, Sadiq Sanjrani of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) pulled off another victory for the position of the Senate chairman in the previous elections. His win is being attributed to a mistake made by seven lawmakers in the upper house of parliament, which was also made in the National Assembly around nine days ago. 

Before the election started, the numbers as seen on the papers did not lean towards Sanjrani. He was the one candidate being backed by the government, who wanted to see him get re-elected. In a shocking turn of events, Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah, the presiding officer, rejected seven votes received by rival, Yousuf Raza Gilani. Consequently, the position of the Senate chairman went to BAP’s Sanjrani, who won by 48-42. 

Sanjrani had previously defeated the motion of no-confidence in the year 2018 and was able to repeat the same feat this year. He took his oath and remained seated in the chair that he has occupied for the past three years. 

As soon as he took charge of the Senate, the leader of the BAP’s first words were ‘Order in the House’. He proceeded to preside over the election for deputy chairman. 

Even more surprising was the fact that the position of the deputy chairman was taken by Mirza Muhammad Afridi. He was being backed by the ruling party of Pakistan, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), and emerged victorious with a lead of 10 votes. 

Afridi is repeatedly claimed by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) as one of its senators. He received 54 votes whereas, Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, belonging to Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and backed by Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) as its joint candidate, received only 44 votes. 

Since the top position of the Senate was taken by candidates backed by the PTI, the 11-party opposition alliance was in a state of shock. On the other hand, the PDM had had a similar effect on the ruling party when it took hold of the seat of the federal capital in the Senate elections on the 3rd of March. 

Due to the victory of the anti-government party, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, had decided to take a vote of confidence. He turned to the National Assembly and started his second innings in politics, halfway through his constitutional term of five years. 

The defeat faced by the PDM on Friday, despite having a clear majority in the house, has set them back to square one. It has also provided a much-needed respite to the ruling government amidst ongoing political hostility in the country. 

When the elections of the chairman of the upper house of the parliament took place, Sanjrani emerged victorious with 48 votes, while Gilani only received 42. Seven votes cast in the favor of the latter were rejected, whereas one had been declared as invalid due to the voter’s stamp for both the candidates. 

Lawmakers, who belonged to the government as well as its allies, could be seen celebrating their victory even before Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah, the Presiding Officer Senator, had announced the results.