ISLAMABAD   -   President Arif Alvi has summoned Senate session on August 1 at Parliament House here for taking up no-trust motions filed against Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani and Deputy Chairman Saleem Mandviwalla.

The Senate secretariat had earlier opined that the opposition cannot move the resolutions for removal of the Senate chairman in a session requisitioned on July 23 by the opposition.

Sanjrani had recently said that only discussions on public issues may be allowed in the session, drawing sharp criticism from the opposition members.

On Friday last, Senator Hasil Bizenjo, the opposition parties’ joint candidate for the top Senate slot, had warned that any attempt to delay the no-confidence motion against the Senate chairman would be a violation of the Constitution.

However, the President has now summoned the Senate session to decide the no-confidence motions against both the chairman and deputy chairman.

“In pursuance of the summary sent by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs for summoning of session of the Senate for taking up motions for leave to move resolutions for removal of Chairman and Deputy Chairman Senate, the President of Pakistan, in exercise of powers under clause (1) of Article 54 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, has summoned Senate to meet on Thursday, the 1st August, 2019 at 2:00 pm,” said a press release issued by the Senate secretariat on Sunday.

The session starting August 1 would discuss only the matters pertaining to the removal of the chairman.

The opposition parties claim support of 55 senators that is enough to de-seat the Senate chairman. The joint opposition looks in a comfortable numerical position to turn the table on the ruling coalition if it goes ahead with its decision to vote out Sanjrani. As per the calculations, the opposition parties, in the 103-member House, enjoy  the support of 61 senators while the government alliance has the backing of 40 members. The chairman can be removed by the majority of the total membership in a secret vote. Thus the support of at least 52 senators will be required to remove the Senate chief.

The opposition alliance comprises 29 PML-N senators, 20 PPP, 5 National Party of Mir Hasil Bizenjo, 4 Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) senators, 2 Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) of Mehmood Achakzai and 1 Awami National Party (ANP) of Asfandyar Wali senator in the Upper House.

The decision to remove Sanjrani was taken at the APC hosted by JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman last month.

The government alliance looks in a weaker position, with PTI having 14 senators. Its ally MQM has 5, Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) has 2, and Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) and PML-Functional have 1 senator each in the House. Eight senators, who sit on the government benches, are from tribal districts. The Jamaat-i-Islami which has two senators had stayed away from the APC.

Sadiq Sanjrani doesn’t belong to any political party. He was elected senator by an independent group. However, later the independent group, he belonged to, formed BAP. The chairman Senate had refused to step down and decided to face the no-confidence motion. Moreover, the government, in a tit-for-tat response to opposition’s no-confidence motion, has also moved a no-confidence motion against Deputy Chairman Senate Saleem Mandviwalla who belongs to Pakistan People’s Party.