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A photo of PPP Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar. — Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar Twitter/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar has suggested to the opposition that it should move another no-confidence motion against Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani to test the loyalty of those members sitting on the opposition benches as well as the forces which immediately come into action to convert a majority into a minority.

“Politically, it is a good opportunity for making such a political move. It will have many benefits. We have a majority [in Senate] but it was converted into a minority. We will come to know if such an attempt is made again or not,” said Mr Khokhar while informally talking to a select group of reporters here on Monday.

Secondly, he said, the move would also expose those people who were sitting on the opposition benches but always ditched it on crucial occasions as it happened at the time of recent joint sitting of parliament and the Senate when the government managed to get the crucial bills passed through manipulation.

Moreover, Mr Khokhar said if the move succeeded then it would open other avenues like moving a similar no-trust motion against Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and this would help the opposition in pushing the government back.

Says move will expose those who ditch opposition during secret ballot

In August 2019, Sadiq Sanjrani had survived a no-confidence motion in the opposition-dominated house when 14 senators ditched the opposition during the secret ballot.

Commenting on the opposition’s defeat in the Senate on four bills on November 19, Mr Khokhar said it happened “primarily due to the opposition’s own mistake”. He said that during the crucial sitting, neither the opposition leader was present in the house nor the parliamentary leaders of other opposition parties, including the PML-N and JUI-F, were there. He said the government had very intelligently taken advantage of the situation and got the bills passed from the house where the opposition had a clear majority.

In his apparent reference to the six independents led by independent Senator Dilawar Khan, the PPP senator regretted that there was a group of people who sat on the opposition benches but they never voted with the opposition on crucial occasions.

“These people come to the opposition-fold when they are to get some benefits and then they vote for the government to get benefit from it as well,” he said, while asking the leadership of his own party to reconsider its decision to seek the support of the six-man independent group which the party had sought at the time of nomination of Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani as the opposition leader in the Senate.

Mr Khokhar said these people were getting double benefits as they were already enjoying chairmanship of five committees on the opposition’s quota.

All of these six independent senators elected in 2018 had been sitting on the treasury benches before the Senate elections in March and all of a sudden they submitted an application to the Senate chairman seeking allocation of seats on the opposition benches. They later informed the chairman that they wanted to support Mr Gilani for the office of the opposition leader for which the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had already nominated Azam Nazeer Tarar.

Interestingly, all these independents had voted for Mr Sanjrani in the elections, only days before their decision to sit on the opposition benches.

Other members of the independents’ group are Ahmed Khan, Kauda Babar and Naseebullah Bazai from Balochistan and Hidayatullah Khan and Hilalur Rehman from the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).

Senator Khokhar is among those members of the PPP who want the party leadership to take action against these six independents who had ditched the opposition during the crucial voting on the electoral reforms and other bills in the joint sitting of parliament and then in the Senate.

When other PPP legislators are expressing the same views in their private conversations, Mr Khokhar is the only party leader who is saying it openly that the party leadership should find out if the support of these senators has been beneficial or harmful to the party.

It may be recalled that Mr Khokhar had resigned as official spokesman for party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari in February without officially citing any reason.

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Yousuf Raza Gilani, while commenting on the situation, had stated that the decision to seek the support of these independents had been made by the party with a “majority vote” and that any decision about the future relationship with these independents would also be made by the leadership.

Justifying their act of supporting the government in parliament, the head of the independents’ group, Dilawar Khan, had stated that they had voted for the electoral reforms bills because no one from the opposition had approached them for a support. On the other hand, he said, a number of treasury members had begged before them for the support.

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