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Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Significance of a Baloch Senate chairman

News Analysis |

The Fifty one Senators elected on 3rd March took an oath earlier today in a ceremony held in Islamabad. Only the defunct finance minister Ishaq Dar was not present at the oath ceremony as he is undergoing treatment in the UK. The stage is all set to elect the new chairman and deputy chairman of the Senate. The parties have finished doing their homework and gathering support. The election will be held at 4pm today.

 The majority party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), has not officially announced its candidates for the chairman and deputy chairman seats but unofficial media reports suggested that PML-N will support Raza Rabbani as the chairman if PPP decides to field him in the contest but if they chose a different candidate, PML-N will field its own candidate. The PML-N later nominated Raja Zafarul Haq as their candidate for Senate chairman.

Read more: PML-N looks favorite to win Senate Chairmanship after PPP snubbed Rabbani

On the other hand, the opposition parties have reached a consensus and decided to support Baloch senator Sadiq Sanjrani as the Senate chairman. The PPP chairman Bilawal Zardari on Sunday announced his party’s support for Sanjrani and field Saleem Mandviwalla as the deputy chairman. The PTI on the other hand announced to neither support the PPP nor the PML-N’s candidate for the chairman seat but declared their unanimous support for any candidate nominated by the independent group of Baloch senators.

The independent group under the leadership of Chief Minister Abdul Quddus Bizenjo also nominated Mir Sadiq Sanjrani as the candidate for Senate chairman. Bizenjo has been rallying for the support of major parties to get his candidate elected. The PTI and PPP, despite Imran Khan’s reluctance to support PPP’s candidate, are now on the same page. Sources also suggested four out of the five MQM-P senators have also offered their support to Sanjrani.

Electing the chairman Senate from Balochistan would be a big leap forward for the country and the province.

Sanjrani belongs to the mineral rich district of Balochistan Chaghi which has huge reserves of gold, copper, silver and many other minerals.  Saindak and Reko Diq copper and gold mines are also located in the district. He started his political career in Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N and stayed with him until his ouster by the military in 1999. Sanjrani later joined the PPP and was appointed in charge of the PPP’s complaint cell where he worked for five years.

Balochistan has been one of the most deprived provinces of Pakistan with the highest level of poverty, lowest literacy rate and human development index, the infrastructure development has also been negligible. There are also a number of separatist and insurgent groups operating in Balochistan. The initiation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which will pass through Balochistan, has provided a golden opportunity to the Pakistani government to mainstream Balochistan and bring it at par with the other provinces.

Read more: Win in Senate elections may pave way for PML-N to legislate…

Considering the present situation, electing the chairman Senate from Balochistan would be a big leap forward for the country and the province. Stability in Balochistan is imperative for stability in the whole country and a Baloch chairman would give to the plight of the Balochis who have long been ignored by the country. The hairman presides over the whole senate and controls the topics of discussion, interprets and applies the standing orders, responds to Members’ points of order relating to them and gives rulings on procedure when necessary.

The low population and lack of representation in the centre has always been a major hindrance in the highlighting the issues of Baloch people. Majority of the senators elected from the Balochistan assembly in the past were not residents of Balochistan, some senators did not even visit the province during the tenure. Sanjrani, on the other hand, is a resident of Balochistan and has resided there for most of his life. As the chairman, he’ll be able to raise Baloch issues in the upper house and play a major role in pro-Baloch legislature and become a true custodian of their rights. 

Read more: An Irrelevant Senate?