Home Latest News PPP’s Yousaf Raza Gilani Elected Senate Chairman Unopposed

PPP’s Yousaf Raza Gilani Elected Senate Chairman Unopposed

PMLN’s Saidal Khan Nasir likewise elected Senate deputy chairman unopposed

by Staff Report

File photo. Tony Ashby—AFP

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Yousaf Raza Gilani and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz)’s Saidal Nasir Khan were on Tuesday elected the Senate chairman and deputy chairman, respectively, unopposed, as the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) boycotted the vote and no other candidates submitted nomination papers for the top slots.

Ahead of the “vote,” 41 senators took oath of office after being elected earlier this month. Prior to the vote, PTI senators protested on the floor of the house, maintaining the election of the chairman and deputy chairman was “unconstitutional” due to an “incomplete house.”

Today’s session began with Senator Ishaq Dar as the presiding officer, with the PTI demanding the session be postponed until elections to the Senate could be conducted from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Speaking on the floor of the house, PTI’s Senator Ali Zafar noted that Article 59 of the Constitution called for all senators to be present in the house for the election of its chairman and that the “process would be unconstitutional till the house is complete.” He said the PTI would not accept the election until the senators from KP were elected and present.

“We wanted to participate in the election [of chairman and deputy chairman], however we would not be part of it where it is ultra vires of the Constitution,” he claimed and accused the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) of making the process controversial.

Responding to the opposition’s criticism, Law Minister Azam Nazeem Tarar said Article 60 of the Constitution calls for elections to the posts of the Senate chairman and deputy chairman as soon as the key posts are vacated. He said the term “duly constituted” for the Senate was not included in the election of the chairman. “The words ‘duly constituted’ are also not used in Article 53, which pertains to the constitution of National Assembly as it was already in existence when the [1973] Constitution was formulated,” he said, noting the Senate polls in KP were only postponed because the provincial government had refused to abide by a Peshawar High Court (PHC) ruling to administer oath to MPAs-elect on reserved seats.

“Had it been a case of force majeure, where the Senate polls weren’t held due to any natural disaster, this House would’ve decided whether to wait for them,” he said, recalling similar issues arose in 2015 when four senator from FATA were not present. However, he said, the House proceeded nevertheless as Article 67 states the absence of any member doesn’t invalidate the proceedings of the Senate. “The House is complete for Constitutional purposes,” he maintained.

Accepting the law minister’s explanation, Dar then proceeded to administer oath of office. After a brief recess, the House proceedings resumed, with Dar announcing that Gilani was elected chairman unopposed as no candidates had submitted nomination papers against him.

After taking oath as the Senate chairman, Gilani thanked the PPP, its leadership, and all allies for granting him the “honor” to lead the House. Stressing senators represented the unity of the federation and the diversity and strength of the nation, he recalled the Supreme Court had recently admitted a historical injustice by recognizing former prime minister’s Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s “judicial murder.”

Stressing that Bhutto had attempted to empower provinces and grant due rights to all citizens, he lamented that Pakistan was currently amidst a major crisis. “Of the many crises we confront, the most dangerous is an attempt to sow hatred amongst us, toxic polarization and incitement of violence,” he said, emphasizing he wanted to build bridges, enable dialogue and provide space for disagreements within the parliamentary norms for progress of the country.

“When I became the P.M., it was time of great fear and apprehension with systematic dismantling of democratic institution, a global economic recession and a divided country but we steadied the ship,” he said, hoping the incumbents would succeed in returning the Senate to its “real glory” as a powerful legislative house.

He also stressed he would not compromise on the dignity of the house or its members.

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