Senate upset.

Seems like a deja vu. A little more than 20 months back, on August 1, 2019 to be exact, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani had defeated a no-confidence motion tabled by the 'joint' opposition which had 66 members in the 104-strong Upper House. Supported by just 36 members belonging to the government and its allies, Sanjrani did not even have a snowman's chance in hell to survive. But he did pull off a shock victory as the opposition failed to muster 53 votes required to de-seat him, despite having a clear majority in the House. Sanjrani secured 50 votes, meaning 14 of the opposition members did not vote in favour of the no-confidence motion even though a total of 66 opposition members had voiced support for the motion in a show of hands before it was tabled.

Yesterday, the history repeated itself - when members of the National Assembly and four provincial assemblies voted to elect 37 Senators. The focus of all attention though was the contest on a general seat from Islamabad for which MNAs constitute the electoral college. The candidates were incumbent Finance Minister Dr Hafeez Shaikh and former prime minister Yousaf Rana Gillani - from the government and the opposition, respectively. As against the government support of 181 members, the opposition enjoyed support from 160 members in the 342-strong National Assembly. But the outcome of the vote was no less than a rabbit emerging from the proverbial hat. Gillani bagged 169 votes as against Shaikh's 164 while seven stood cancelled. By the way, the Asif Ali Zardari factor was pivotal, though intriguingly, in both results.

With the shock defeat looms the question: Is it a sign of no-confidence in the government? Does it warrant a fresh vote of confidence to be taken by Prime Minister Imran Khan from the lower house of parliament? Well, opposition leaders have already started calling upon the Prime Minister to tender his resignation and go. They see Gillani's success as a first step towards sending Imran Khan packing. The government, on the other hand, insists that the Election Commission of Pakistan has failed to ensure transparent elections as directed by the Supreme Court while issuing its opinion on...

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