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ISLAMABAD: The Upper House of the Parliament is going to elect its chairman and deputy chairman while 48 newly-elected senators are scheduled to take oath today (Friday) as half of the Senate met its six-year term on Thursday with the retirement of 49 of 52 senators—three Senate seats remained vacant.

At the Senate sitting presided over by Barrister Muhammad Javed Abbasi from Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), Ateeq Shaikh, Sassui Palijo, Salahuddin Tirmizi and Giandchand shared views. The Senate continued for just over an hour before the 308th session was prorogued.

Ateeq Shaikh from Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P), who chaired the session for few minutes before it was prorogued, exchanged harsh words with Ginachand, the last speaker of the 308th session. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) senator insisted to continue speaking while Shaikh repeatedly asked him to wind up, saying, the sitting needed to be concluded as the Senate Secretariat staff was required to make arrangements for the elections of chairman and deputy chairman as well as oath-taking ceremony of newly-elected senators.

Behramand Tangi from PPP intervened and asked the Chair that Giandchand be allowed to continue his speech. This infuriated Shaikh after both PPP senators kept insisting to speak. “This is not the way. You cannot address the Chair like that. For God’s sake, have some sense. We are at the end of our term. Please don’t create any kind of scene here. The entire nation is watching. This august House has already faced huge embarrassment due to some members of this House. Please don’t become a source of embarrassment for Senate,” he said before reading out the prorogation order.

Government’s candidate and recently retired chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani and opposition’s Yousuf Raza Gillani are contesting for the slot of chairman Senate while government’s Mirza Muhammad Afridi and opposition’s Abdul Ghafoor Haideri are in run for Senate’s deputy chairmanship.

Of the 99 Senate votes, the ruling coalition has 47 votes in Senate compared to 52 votes of opposition in the 100-seat new Senate whose one seat is vacant with PML-N’s Ishaq Dar having not taken oath since his election as senator in March 2018.

Originally, 52 senators were scheduled to retire on March 11. Out of them, 49 senators completed their term. Two senators - Sitara Ayaz and Ashok Kumar— tendered resignations and Mushahid Ullah Khan passed away last month.

Senate elections were scheduled on 48 seats on March 3. Out of these seats, senators on all the 11 Punjab seats were elected unopposed and elections on remaining 37 seats were held.

Following FATA’s merger into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, four erstwhile FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) seats stood abolished in recently held Senate elections with the retirement of four senators while as many seats would be abolished in Senate elections in 2024 with the retirement of remaining four senators elected on erstwhile FATA seats. After the abolition of eight erstwhile FATA seats, the number of Senate seats would be reduced to 96 with 48 senators retiring every three years. Due to abolition of four FATA seats in recent elections, the Senate’s current strength has been reduced to 100 seats.

Senate polls were held on 12 seats each of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, 11 seats of Sindh and two seats of Islamabad.

In each province, the elections were held on seven General seats, two Women seats and two Technocrats/Ulema seats. In KP and Balochistan, elections were held on one seat each for non-Muslims. Elections on the remaining two Non-Muslims seats; one each of Punjab and Sindh, would be held in 2024.

Each province has 23 seats—14 general seats, four Women seats, four Technocrats/Ulema seats and one Non-Muslim seat. Erstwhile FATA has eight General seats and Islamabad has four seats—two General and two Women’s.

Half of the Senate membership retires every three years after completing its term.

Senators including Deputy Chairman Senate Saleem Mandviwalla, Leader of the Opposition Raja Zafar-ul-Haq, Information Minister Shibli Faraz, Sherry Rehman, Sirajul Haq, Rehman Malik, Ayesha Raza Farooq, Mohsin Aziz, Liaqat Tarakai, Zeeshan Khanzada, Atta Ur Rehman, Chaudhry Tanvir, Farooq Naek, Manzoor Ahmed Kakar, Sarfraz Bugti, Khushbakht Shujaat, Ateeq Sheikh, Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, Muhammad Ali Saif, Javed Abbasi, Usman Kakar, Pervaiz Rasheed and Sajid Mir were among senators who retired yesterday.

Out of them, Mandviwalla, Faraz, Sherry, Mir, Naek, Bugti, Khanzada, Atta Ur Rehman, Aziz, Tarakai, Manzoor Kakar and Haideri are among those re-elected as senators for a fresh three-year term.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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