ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) lawmaker Sherry Rehman was appointed as leader of the opposition in the Senate on Thursday, making her the first woman to be given the slot in the Upper House. “PPP Senator Sherry Rehman has been declared the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate,” reads a notification issued by the Senate Secretariat. She was announced as the opposition leader after she managed to secure majority signatures. PPP, after getting its candidate Saleem Mandviwalla elected as Senate chairman and deputy chairman, has now occupied the office of the opposition leader with the support of 34 members. On March 14, the PPP had nominated Sherry Rehman for the post of opposition leader in Senate. At the time, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto had said the party was making history by nominating the first woman to lead the opposition in the Upper House. Earlier, the late Benazir Bhutto had served as leader of the opposition in the National Assembly during the two PML-N governments in the 1990s. After being elected, Sherry Rehman thanked her party’s leadership and its allies for supporting her. She vowed to cooperate with all the opposition parties in Senate and to make the Upper House active and more effective. “We will play our role in making the government answerable,” she said, adding that the opposition will make efforts to strengthen the federation. PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari congratulated Sherry Rehman on becoming the opposition leader in Senate. “Election of Sherry Rehman as Leader of the Opposition in the Senate was in line with PPP’s inherited policy of empowerment of women and providing them equal opportunities to play their role in every sphere of life,” he said in a statement. Shahrbano Rehman, better known as Sherry Rehman, was born on December 21, 1960, in Karachi. She got her education at Smith College and later at the University of Sussex where she studied art, history and political science. Rehman has served as an MNA and federal minister for various departments including health, women development and information. She has also served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States in PPP-led government’s recent term. The Senate elects the chairman, deputy chairman, leader of the house and leader of the opposition every three years after elections for half of its members are held. The leader of the opposition is chosen by a majority vote from among the members of the opposition. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf had nominated party leader Azam Swati for the position of opposition leader in the Senate and had challenged the PPP’s move to nominate Rehman for the position. In a letter to Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, PTI Senator Azam Swati had contended that the list of members supporting Rehman for the slot of opposition leader contravened the rules and procedures of the House. In its efforts to thwart the PPP move, the party had also approached the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), senators from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) as well as the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI). Meanwhile, all 15 independent senators who were backed by the ruling PML-N in the elections for the Upper House held earlier this month have decided to join the treasury benches. According to a notification issued by the Senate Secretariat, two independent senators from FATA have also decided to join the treasury in addition to the 15 PML-N-backed senators. However, 11 independent senators, including six from FATA, have decided to sit on the opposition benches. Days before the Senate elections took place on March 3, all PML-N nominees were declared independent by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). The decision was taken in the aftermath of the Supreme Court verdict which removed Nawaz Sharif from his post as party head and nullified all official party decisions he took following the July 28 Panama Papers judgment. Published in Daily Times, March 23rd 2018.