A ‘tainted’ victory in Senate saves govt from ignominy

By: Ashraf Mumtaz      Published: 03:46 PM, 13 Mar, 2021
A ‘tainted’ victory in Senate saves govt from ignominy

Mr Sadiq Sanjrani’s win, for a second time as Senate chairman, was a tainted victory because the rejection of the seven votes that gave him numerical superiority over PDM’s Yusuf Raza Gilani is questionable and will be challenged in court. 

The deputy chairman’s tally has established that seven members of the upper house of parliament had deliberately created this situation for whatever reasons. Had this not been the case the chairman and the deputy would have bagged equal votes as the electoral college and supporters for both were the same. 

This outcome, no matter how illogical, has saved the government from tremendous embarrassment. Had the PDM’s contender for the top post (Mr Gilani) won, the system would have been paralyzed as he could have created many problems. 

In fact the Senate election as a whole (both for the members as well as the chairman and deputy chairman) has vindicated the view that the ballot at all tiers should be open to bring an end to the deep-rooted hypocrisy in the Islamic republic. No doubt that one can vote according to conscience only through secret ballot, but this mode is not suitable for this society for the time being.

In the open voting the presiding officer could not have rejected the seven votes the way he did.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had said in a speech that the opposition parties would cry in case of secret balloting. The spate of condemnations after the result has vindicated him.

Now the stage is set for a new phase of legal battle. No one can predict for how long would it continue and what would be the situation in case the PDM’s point of view was ultimately accepted. The road ahead is certainly bumpy.

The opposition parties that had claimed in the recent past that the establishment has become ‘neutral’ have again alleged that it influenced the elections for the top offices of the upper house of parliament. This is regurgitation of the same old accusation, which the relevant quarter must address – and respond. Such utterances bring a bad name to the institutions that are supposed to be impartial in political matters.

After the Senate elections a fair division of top slots among the federating units has come into existence. The president is from Sindh, the prime minister and army chief from Punjab, Senate chairman from Balochistan and NA speaker from KP. 

(Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and deputy chairman of the Senate are from Balochistan and KP, respectively).

In the near future the PDM will focus on the long march on Islamabad, scheduled for March 26. Participants from various parts of the country will converge on the federal capital on March 30 for an indefinite period. There is also a plan to stage a sit-in there to mount pressure on the government to quit. 

To add to the lethality of the move, PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman is convincing all alliance component parties to bring the resignations of their legislators with them. 

It is not clear as yet whether all PDM parties will follow the strategy conceived by the Maulana, who was defeated on two seats of the National Assembly he was a candidate from in the 2018 elections. 

It is also not certain whether the PPP will go by this strategy – which may create any unpredictable situation – or will try to confine the political battle to the assemblies. So far it has been successful in convincing its allies in the PDM to follow the PPP’s line. 

The latest situation will be reviewed by the PDM leaders at a meeting on March 15. 

Daska by-election (NA-75 Sialkot), rescheduled for April 10, will be another important political battle between the government and the PDM. Both sides are trying to garner support for their respective candidates. 

Whatever the outcome of the ongoing friction between the government and the opposition, the political system has become totally ineffective. The parliament has failed to address all major problems facing the country.  

People’s problems are multiplying every day but the major parties have no time to address them.

Opposition parties want to keep the PTI engaged in matters that make it impossible for the latter to pay attention to the real problems. The opposition parties think that the people would reject the PTI in the next elections on account of its failure to deliver on its promises. 

This is part of the political system practised in the country. 

But the most unfortunate aspect of this all is that the Kashmir issue stands ignored. No party talks of the sufferings of the Kashmiris, the way India is consolidating its hold on the territory and the policy Pakistan should work out to get the Kashmiris their rights.

Momentary political interests of the parties are more important than their long-term obligations.