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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People's Party (PPP) may not move a no-confidence motion against Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani fearing that any move to oust the incumbent Senate chief would be foiled by Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) as hostility between two major opposition parties escalates.

Background interviews with senior leaders from PML-N and PPP reveal that the latter has no plan, so far, to move a no-confidence motion against Sanjrani mainly due to its deteriorated terms with PML-N and keeping in view the perception that Sanjrani enjoys the support of the powers-that-be.

Senior PML-N leader and former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi told Business Recorder that his party offered PPP to move a no-confidence motion against Senate chairman Sadiq Sanjrani. "It is on record that 57 senators in writing at the time of nomination of the opposition leader Yousaf Raza Gillani admitted that they were opposition members. The members sitting on government benches cannot be considered as the opposition members. We offer PPP to capture seat of the Senate chairman and reverse the stolen elections by bringing a no-confidence move against the chairman," he said.

Abbasi said that out of those independent senators who supported Gillani for Senate opposition leader slot, three have given in writing that they are now part of Balochistan Awami Party (BAP). "PML-N stands by those who are struggling against the government through the forum of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) and it was decided at the PDM huddles that opposition leader would belong to PML-N," he said.

Senior PPP leader and former chairman Senate Nayyer Hussain Bokhari denied that Gillani got the support of any BAP senator for the slot of leader of the opposition in Senate. "PPP's 21 senators, a group of four independent senators led by Dilawar Khan, two Awami National Party (ANP) senators, two independent senators from erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and one Jamat-e-Islami (JI) senator - in total they are 30 senators who supported Gillani's candidate for opposition leader slot.

No one was from BAP," he said. "Still, we are facing accusations that PPP is a 'sarkari' (government sponsored) opposition. Such allegations are detrimental to PDM's unity," he said.

Bokhari said PPP would discuss the option of moving no-confidence motion against chairman Senate in its upcoming Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting.

"PPP is single largest opposition party in Senate so it deserves the slot of opposition leader just like PML-N is single largest opposition party in National Assembly where opposition leader slot and chairmanship of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) belong to it," he said.

Requesting anonymity, an opposition senator told Business Recorder the PPP has a clear idea that it is not easy to de-seat Sanjrani. "Apart from PML-N hostility factor, PPP knows pretty well how Sanjrani managed to become chairman Senate and how a no-confidence motion against him was foiled in August 2019. I don't think PPP would take the risk of further embarrassment by moving a no-confidence motion against Sanjrani after chairman Senate election experience," the source said.

In 100-seat Senate whose present strength is 99 members, opposition has 52 votes compared to 47 votes of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led ruling coalition. If a no-confidence motion against Senate chief is moved, the PPP would need majority of the total votes cast over the motion. If all the 99 votes are cast, PPP would require at least 50 votes to secure majority.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021