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Pakistan: Former PM Yusuf Raza Gilani elected unopposed as Senate chairman

Gilani, 71, was elected as the Senate chairman and PML-N's Saidal Khan Nasir was elected as the deputy chairman of the Upper House of Pakistan's Parliament. With this, the ruling alliance has solidified its grip on power by controlling both houses of the parliament.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Islamabad Published on: April 09, 2024 16:18 IST
Pakistan, Senate chairman, Yusuf Raza Gilani
Image Source : X Former Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani.

Islamabad: Former Pakistan Prime Minister and senior Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Yusuf Raza Gilani was elected unopposed as chairman of the Pakistani Senate on Tuesday, days after the PPP and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz-led (PML-N) coalition swept the elections. PML-N's Saidal Khan Nasir was elected as the deputy chairman today.

No one else had filed nomination papers against Gilani and Nasir, who were supported by the ruling alliance. As many as 41 newly-elected senators were also sworn in as members of the Upper House of Parliament amid a strong protest by incarcerated former PM Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), according to Dawn. The PTI lawmakers demanded the Tuesday session be postponed until the Senate elections were held in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The election of senators from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was scheduled for April 2 but postponed due to the controversy over the oath of members elected on reserved seats. Provincial Assembly Speaker Babar Saleem Swati refused to administer oaths to opposition lawmakers on reserved seats. The seats were allotted to PPP, PML-N and other parties after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) rejected a plea by the PTI and Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) for the allocation of these seats.

Nonetheless, the ruling coalition in the Centre, led by the PML-N, swept the elections on April 2 held in Islamabad, Punjab and Sindh, securing 19 seats. After the elections, the coalition controls 59 of the 85 seats at present. The total strength of the Senate is 96, but currently, only 85 senators are its members as elections for 11 senators from KP are still pending.

Ruling alliance solidifies grip on power

Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar, who had won on a technocrat seat from Islamabad on April 2, was the presiding officer for Tuesday's session where Gilani and Nisar were elected as the Senate's chairman and deputy chairman respectively. In remarks following his oath-taking, the PPP leader thanked his party and the coalition partners.

A visibly emotional Gilani recounted the hanging of former PM Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and noted that Pakistan's Supreme Court recently “acknowledged the “judicial murder and admitted this historical injustice”. "In the present moment, the crisis is deep. Pakistan faces an assault of those who seek to divide and polarise us, those who seek to incite hatred, those who seek to replace norms of civility and abuse democracy and demagoguery," he added.

“I will be the chairman of the Senate of the entire House and my ambition is to build bridges, enable dialogue and provide a space which allows for meaningful, robust discussion and disagreements within the norms of parliamentary conventions and most importantly, for the progress of the country,” Gilani further stressed.

With its two members elected as the Senate's chairman and deputy chairman, the ruling alliance has solidified its grip on power as it now controls both houses of the parliament. The senators are elected for six-and-a-half-year with half of the house up for election every three years. They are elected by the provincial and National Assemblies.

Almost a month ago, the Upper House became dysfunctional following the retirement of half of its members. The unique situation came about due to the delay in holding general elections, Dawn reported earlier. Later today, current Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif appointed Dar as the leader of the House.

(with PTI inputs)

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