by Jamil Bhatti
ISLAMABAD, March 13 (Xinhua) -- An alliance of opposition parties in Pakistan has stunned the ruling party the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Monday by winning the two top positions in Senate, the country's upper house of the parliament.
Opposition-backed candidates Sadiq Sanjrani and Saleem Mandviwalla won the positions of chairman and deputy chairman of Senate, respectively.
According to an official statement, Sanjrani who was supported by two main opposition parties, the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI), or Pakistan Justice Movement in English, got 57 votes out of the 103 votes polled in the chamber.
The runner-up Raja Zafar-ul-Haq, a candidate of the ruling PML-N led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, secured 46 votes.
For the slot of deputy chairman, Mandviwalla secured 54 votes while his opponent candidate Usman Kakar could get only 44 votes out of 98 votes polled as five senators didn't participate in the election.
Although the PML-N had a sole majority with its 33 members and also had support from some other small parties, its candidate could not win required favors.
A strong reaction from the leaders of the ruling party was witnessed after the unexpected loss in the house.
Minister of State for Interior Tallal Chaudhry expressed disappointment over the results and said some PML-N-backed senators retreated from their promises and voted for the opposition.
Senior journalist and analyst Talat Hussain said it is a moment of introspection for the PML-N because the party was depending on its allies, whose voters might have changed their minds.
Majority of the opposition parties had supported Sanjrani's candidature and announced to vote for him after he was elected as the member of the Senate for the first time on March 3, 2018, in the Senate elections, in which, half of the chamber's members were elected.
Sanjrani hails from a political family from Chagai district of the country's southwest Balochistan province. He was born on April 14, 1978, and received a Master Degree in Art from the Balochistan University.
Sanjrani's father is considered one of the leading tribal elders in his native area and currently, he is a member of the local district council.
Talking to media, Sanjrani said:" I am a simple man and want to serve my people who have been deprived of their rights. I believe in working for people and during my career, I shall try to help people."
Sanjrani is the first-ever Senate chairman from Balochistan province.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari congratulated Sanjrani, saying that it would make the country stronger. PTI Chairman Imran Khan stated that his party is happy over the election of Sanjrani as it is good for the people of Balochistan and for the Federation of Pakistan.