High stakes in Senate

The Senate has been reconvened where newly-elected members will take oath. The tug of war between the government and the opposition gets more intense as the elections for the highest seats of the Upper House are being held.

The elections for the Senate Chairman and Deputy Chairman are set to be held as both sides are vying that their candidate wins the coveted posts. The opposition has fielded Yousaf Raza Gilani for the head of the Upper House where incumbent Sadiq Sanjrani is seeking a second term. Gilani’s victory has been already controversial but the ECP has issued his victory notification. Now another controversy can arise after the elections which we will witness today.

The combined opposition has 53 members in Senate while the government coalition has 47 members. This means that it is impossible for the government to win unless certain members of the coalition do not vote for them or abstain from voting. This also implies that foul play is evident once again just like we witnessed in the by-elections and the recent Senate elections.

The government cannot afford to hand over the Chairman Senate post to the opposition. This is certain to create immense problems in passing crucial legislation. Although the government does not have a majority, it cannot allow the opposition to be an impediment in the Senate and hamper the passing of laws. Therefore, we are seeing the prime minister make hectic efforts and ministers running from pillar to post to ensure that they remain in control of the top post.

It should also be reminded that the elections will be once again be held by secret ballot. Both sides clashed over transparency in the Senate polls and even ignited a feud with the ECP. Once again the closed ballots will play a decisive role in the elections. There has been increased animosity between both sides with verbal duels in parliament and clashes outside. This will intensify in case the government manages to avenge the upset and get its candidate elected.

The stakes have never been higher as the political temperatures have been soaring. The parliament is at a standstill and democratic norms are being sidelined. Once the dust has been settled after the polls, it is necessary that the government and opposition end the hostility and work on the myriad of social and economic problems affecting the country.