Prime Minister Imran Khan claimed on Wednesday a Senate vote is being sold for Rs500 million to Rs700 million in Balochistan.
Speaking to media persons in Kallar Syedan, Prime Minister Khan said the ruling PTI can bag more seats than opposition parties if the upcoming Senate elections are held through secret balloting.
“How is this possible that the senator who gets elected by means of money won’t make quick bucks,” he questioned and revealed that he is being offered money for Senate seats and this is not the first time he is being made such offers. “I was contacted directly and indirectly for selling a Senate seat for the sake of money,” he said.
“For 30 years, money is being used in the Senate elections,” the prime minister said, adding selling vote in return of money negates democracy. He further claimed that it was JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman who got most monetary benefits from the Senate polls.
He said he expelled 20 MPAs from his party for being involved in horse-trading, two of whom went so far as to file a case against him.
The prime minister said the PPP and PML-N called for open balloting for the Senate elections in the Charter of Democracy (COD) signed between leaders of the two parties. “Why didn’t they [opposition parties] tried to do away with the practice of the use of money in the Senate elections despite being in power for 30 years,” the premier asked.
Why government introduced the Ordinance?
According to sources, the decision for introducing the presidential ordinance was taken after the opposition staged a demonstration in the National Assembly on Thursday and blocked the passage of the Constitution Amendment Bill, tabled by the government for holding Senate polls through the open ballot.
Earlier, Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani has backed holding Senate elections via open ballot in his response to a reference pertaining to the matter filed by the government in the Supreme Court.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, and Balochistan governments have also backed the federal government’s opinion of holding open-ballot polls, while Sindh has rejected the idea.
A five-judge larger bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed and comprising Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan and Justice Yahya Afridi, hearing the reference.
The apex court had issued notices to Advocate Generals, the Election Commission of Pakistan, Chairman Senate, Speaker National Assembly and the Speakers of provincial assemblies over the issue.
PTI to emerge as the winning party?
Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, President of the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency, opines that “if the Senate election takes place in March 2021 as scheduled, the PTI is likely to emerge as the largest party in the house, displacing the PML-N from that position”.
It is, however, important to note that the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) has announced to resign from the assemblies. PPP, led by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, is one of the parties rallying against the government. Syed Murad Shah, Chief Minister Sindh, may advise the dissolution of the assembly shortly ahead of the Senate election in March 2021 which may keep an entire province out of the election.
Mehboob writes that “in case this happens, it will be the first time that a province skips the Senate election cycle”. “Since there is no clear and explicit provision in the Constitution and the Elections Act regarding such a situation, the matter may end up in a court of law for resolution and interpretation of the Constitution,” he continued.
“This may become necessary also because fresh election of the chair and deputy chair of the Senate has to take place immediately after the March 2021 election and the absence of half the representation of a province may significantly impact the outcome of these elections,” he concluded.