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Early election of upper house

By: Summaiya Ali 

It may not be correct to call the two decisions that came out of Tuesday’s meeting of the federal cabinet regarding the election of half of the seats in the upper house (Senate) the final decision. In this regard, the government has yet to approach the Election Commission and seek guidance from the Supreme Court. The 52 Senate seats are due to fall vacant on March 12, and the new members elected by the Senate will fill those seats. This time the Senate elections are significant in that the PTI government has had difficulty in passing laws on several occasions due to the fact that the opposition in the current upper house has more seats than the government benches. The parties in the government are eagerly awaiting the 2021 Senate elections as the PTI and its allies have so many seats in all the houses except the Sindh Provincial Assembly that there is a strong hope of getting a numerical majority in the Senate elections. It has been speculated that legislation will be relatively easy for the current government after the Senate elections. In this situation, the parliamentary parties in the opposition alliance PDM are showing their intention to resign from the assemblies before the Senate elections, while the government circles claim that by accepting the resignations from various assemblies, the vacant seats will be filled by by-elections. Will be done on source. In response, indications of a constitutional crisis in the absence of Sindh voters were given. Legal discussions are also underway on both sides. In this scenario, two decisions were taken at the federal cabinet meeting on Tuesday. The briefing of the Federal Minister of Information and the reports of informed sources show that one of these decisions is to hold the Senate elections in February for which the Election Commission will be approached. The second decision is to seek guidance from the Supreme Court in the form of a reference to open voting instead of secret ballot in the Senate elections. Prime Minister Imran Khan has expressed the wish that the Senate elections be held through show of hands instead of secret ballot. Information Minister Shibli Faraz also said in a media briefing that there were allegations of horse trading in the Senate elections. PTI had expelled 20 members of the provincial assembly from its ranks in this regard. According to the briefing, the Prime Minister said that there is only one objective of legal reform for the elections and that is to make the entire electoral process transparent. Attorney General of Pakistan Khalid Javed Khan briefed the Senate on the law on Senate elections. He said that there was no apparent ban on open ballot in the Constitution of Pakistan, however, he recommended that in view of the sensitivity and importance of the matter, it might be useful to seek the opinion of the Supreme Court under Article 186 (Consultative Jurisdiction). According to Senator Shibli Faraz, even if there is no Sindh Assembly, there will be Senate elections. As far as the legal aspects are concerned, it is necessary to discuss them, but it is better to try to get out of the state of tension. The date and procedure of the Senate election should be determined by negotiating with the opposition. The challenges facing the country require that all quarters put national interests first, including their own. Electoral reform and transparency are needed not only by the government, but also by the opposition. The progress that will be made together in this chapter will have much better results.

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