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Pakistan

Senate election: PPP, PML-N want to promote horse-trading by demanding secret ballot: FM

  • Foreign minister says the trend of selling votes by public representatives would tantamount to bargaining on the people’s trust
  • Long march and protest is a constitutional right of the PDM, and the government has recognised this right: Qureshi
Published February 8, 2021

(Karachi) Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) want to promote horse-trading by demanding secret ballot for the Senate polls, local media reported on Monday.

Speaking to media persons in Multan, Qureshi said the government is making hectic efforts to hold the polls through the open ballot to ensure transparency. He said the trend of selling votes by public representatives would tantamount to bargaining on the people’s trust.

He added that Prime Minister Imran Khan had taken notice of horse-trading earlier and is committed to curb this practice.

Shah Mehmood highlighted that the PPP and PML-N signed the Charter of Democracy and both parties have already supported open ballot, so why are they backing out from it now. “Why do PPP and PML-N want to set up a market, why do they want to buy people?” he questioned.

He added, “The PTI has approached the Supreme Court on Senate polls and the government will accept the top court's decision with an open heart."

Senate a symbol of strength

The foreign minister said the Senate election had nothing to do with reducing inflation. “There are many factors that can help reduce inflation. The Senate is an institution that is a symbol of the Federation. Every issue should be raised in the Senate. The Senate is a symbol of the strength of the Federation,” he said.

Qureshi said at present, many forces are promoting terrorism in Pakistan. “There are many forces that want to spread terrorism and chaos in Pakistan. They want to weaken the federation and economy.”

PDM resignations

Qureshi said that the Pakistan Democratic Movement had announced resignations, which have not been materialised till date. “All the announcements made by the PDM till date have not been fulfilled.

Long march and protest is a constitutional right of the PDM, and the government has recognised this right,” he said, adding that the Opposition should not take the law into their hands. “Do not damage private or public property. Protest in a democratic way,” he said.

Presidential ordinance

On February 6, the government promulgated a presidential ordinance to make amendments to the Election Act, 2017, to hold Senate polls through open vote.

However, according to a provision of the ordinance, its application is conditional on the Supreme Court's advisory opinion on whether secret balloting as mentioned under Article 226 of the Constitution includes the Senate election.

The government has already filed a reference with the apex court, asking for its interpretation on the relevant article. If the SC interprets secret balloting referred to in Article 226 to also include Senate elections, then the ordinance will not hold since a constitutional amendment will be required to hold Senate polls through open vote.

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