Early Senate elections

The government has played a clever play card by considering holding the Senate elections earlier and approaching the Supreme Court to hold the polls openly. With the opposition still undecided and delaying the submission of resignation from the assemblies, it would give even lesser time to finalise their next course of action. The government is also set to pass reforms such as holding the elections through an open show of hands to ensure transparency.

The elections are to be held for 52 seats of the 104-seat Upper House for those retiring on March 11. However, a constitutional law pointed out by Science Minister Fawad Chaudhry states that elections could be held earlier without any amendment. If the proposal goes ahead, the opposition will be in a fix to find a coherent strategy for the Senate elections.

Senate elections stoke controversy for secret balloting leading to horse-trading as parties fight for the coveted seats. The government wants to end the malpractices that affect elections and wants an open show of hands before the polls to ensure transparency. It needs to be seen whether a hostile opposition that is campaigning hard to oust Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government will accept the reforms.

The opposition has called for the submission of resignations by December 31. They are being submitted to respective party heads rather than the Speaker of National Assembly. Even if the resignations reach him, it is at the discretion of the speaker to accept it. This is a long time-consuming process as each lawmaker is called summoned individually to confirm his/her resignation. The opposition realises this and is using delaying tactics in the submission of resignations.

PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said he is willing to sacrifice the Sindh government if it can help oust Imran Khan’s government, but left the decision to the joint opposition. The PDM has held its last political gathering in Lahore but is set to meet again as the PPP commemorates Benazir Bhutto’s anniversary. The opposition has not provided any coherent strategy on how it aims to overthrow the government or stop the Senate elections and is continuing the rhetoric against the PTI.

Despite the denial, the PDM is considering accepting the government dialogue offer but needs to find a scapegoat before any talks. What is certain is that Senate polls will be held without any disruption and the opposition will be a part of it. As the opposition remains divided, Imran Khan seems more strengthened than ever before.