Newly elected Chairman Senate Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani, who secured 57 votes, speaks to reporters outside Parliament in Islamabad, Pakistan, March 12, 2018. [Photo/B.K. Bangash/AP]
Pakistan‘s governing party has lost the election of the chairman of the Upper House – the Senate – as the joint opposition candidate convincingly clinched the office, according to official results.
Mohammad Sadiq Sanjrani, who hails from the southwestern Balochistan province, and is a candidate of the joint opposition, secured 57 out of a total of 103 votes, while his rival, Raja Zafar-ul-Haq, of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz group) won 46 votes on Monday.
Sanjrani, who is the first Senate chairman from the restive Balochistan province since Pakistan’s independence in 1947, embodied the support of the main opposition Pakistan People’s party (PPP), Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) of the former cricketing hero, Imran Khan, and independent senators from Balochistan and the northwestern tribal region.
Hailing from the Sanjrani tribe, mainly based in the remote Chagai district which borders Afghanistan and Iran, the newly-elected chairman – who has just turned 40 – is also the youngest chairman of the Upper House.
He holds a masters degree in political science from Quaid-i-Azam International University, Islamabad.
Meanwhile, former Finance Minister Saleem Mandviwalla, fielded by the joint opposition, has been elected as deputy chairman with 54 votes, compared with 44 votes obtained by the ruling alliance’s candidate, Usman Kakar.
Live footage aired on local broadcaster Express News showed the government and the opposition supporters shouting chants and thrashing each other as soon as the presiding officer, senator Yaqoob Khan Nasir, announced the results.
The result is seen as a major setback to the governing party, the Pakistan Muslim League, which had emerged as the single largest party – 33 seats in a 104-member house – following the by-polls results on March 3, months before the new general elections.
But the party required 20 more votes from its allied parties to clinch the office of the Senate chairman, which it could not get.
All four provinces have an equal number of seats in the Upper House, compared with the Lower House, where constituencies are allocated on the basis of population.
Half of the senators are elected for six years, and half for three years.
SOURCE: Anadolu news agency