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Politics of Senate elections

Haleem Adil Shaikh

The writer is PTI Sindh Vice-President.

It is well known that the members of the Senate are elected by secret ballot through the National and Provincial Assemblies. Each of the four provincial assemblies elects 23 members from their respective provinces. Four members are elected from the federal capital whereas eight members are elected from the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA).

Perhaps few people know that some Senate seats are obtained by paying members of the Provincial Assembly. Candidates are mostly handpicked by powerful party heads. Loyalties are shifted overnight and one is not surprised to see the turncoats returning to the house under a different party banner each time. Money can buy a party ticket or even a seat in the august house standing as an independent.

That is why the election of the Senate has always been a dilemma. This tragic politics of Pakistan has its place but our neighboring country India is also witnessing corruption in the Senate elections. But in 2003, an amendment was made for the upper house elections to open balloting and thus this process of corruption, i.e the process of a secret ballot, was abolished.

It is unfortunate that due to the incompetence of the previous governments, corruption has spread in Pakistan to such an extent that the government needs to take extraordinary steps to control it. That’s the main reason, PTI government has announced a Show of hands.

The government wants to end the malpractices that affect elections and wants an open show of hands before the polls to ensure transparency. This will also find out who voted for whom and then eliminate the possibility of who secretly disregarded their party’s instructions and who used the vote for their own benefit.

But sadly, opposition parties, including the PPP and the PML-N, are openly opposing the government’s decision, which is a clear indication of how these political parties were involved in horse-trading.

Besides, as far as their resignations are concerned, there is no consensus among them in this regard as many members will do not resign at the behest of their leaders and those who will resign will be very few. Aitzaz Ahsan told PPP that 150 resignations will not be enough to dissolve the National Assembly. At least 62 resignations will be required to oust the government.

On the other hand, Bilawal Bhutto, repeating the PPP traditions, has taken the honor of stabbing the PDM. Nowadays, Bilawal says he will face the government in parliament instead of resigning. In spite of all these hypocritical politics, I think the opposition should support the government in this process of transparency.

Because the current process of Senate elections is based on a system of sheer lies and hypocrisy, open balloting and show of hands must be used. We think that this will definitely help in bringing transparency to the political process.

In this regard, the government has approached the Supreme Court already. We believe that if this inquiry is presented in a rational manner, there is a strong possibility that the Supreme Court will allow the March 2021 Senate elections to be held by open balloting.

If the way is paved for open balloting in the Senate elections, it will be a victory not only for one party but for the whole of Pakistan and its people. Now the people should decide who is better for the country; unelected people like Maulana Fazlur Rehman, and Maryam Nawaz or the person [Imran Khan] who is holding corrupt people accountable.

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