- Minister says sale and purchase of votes has been a tradition in the history of Senate elections in Pakistan and it is not hidden from anyone
- Umar says the aim to move the presidential reference is to make the election process credible
(Karachi) Planning Minister Asad Umar has said that the government will take all-out measures, within the limits of the Constitution, to ensure transparency and end horse-trading in the upcoming Senate elections.
Addressing a media briefing in Islamabad along with Information Minister Shibli Faraz on Tuesday, Umar said that sale and purchase of votes has been a tradition in the history of Senate elections in Pakistan and it is not hidden from anyone.
He maintained that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has come to power on the belief that it will take all possible steps to check horse-trading in the Senate polls for which it has tabled a Constitutional amendment in the National Assembly to hold Senate elections through open ballot.
He pointed out the government has also filed a presidential reference to the Supreme Court with a request for interpretation of the law pertaining to the Senate polls that whether these elections can be held through show of hands instead of the secret ballot. "The government will respect apex court's decision in this regard," he stated.
The planning minister highlighted that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan People's Party had inked the Charter of Democracy agreeing to hold Senate elections in a transparent way, but now they are backing away from this commitment. He said, "We want to make the election process credible."
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.