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Will MQM-P support PTI in Senate Elections?

The government has reportedly decided to hold Senate elections in February instead of March 2021. Will the government win this election if MQM-P offers its support?

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A delegation comprising federal ministers and parliamentarians from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) called on Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday, where they assured him of “complete solidarity” during the upcoming Senate elections.

The meeting was attended by federal ministers Asad Umar, Ali Haider Zaidi, Aminul Haq, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, MNA Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Sindh MPA Haleem Adil Sheikh, Kunwar Naveed Jamil and Haider Rizvi, a PM Office press release said.

During the meeting, the participants discussed the overall political situation as well as the upcoming Senate elections. MQM-Pakistan’s parliamentarians assured the Prime Minister of complete solidarity with the government for the election of the Upper House of Parliament.

Earlier, the Sindh Governor met Prime Minister Khan and apprised him of the Covid-19 situation in Sindh as well as the Green Line and Red Line mass transit projects. The Sindh governor also invited the Prime Minister to visit the province which he accepted, the PM office said in a separate press release.

The government has reportedly decided to hold Senate elections in February instead of March 2021. The decision was taken on Tuesday during a meeting of the federal cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The government has decided to use “open voting” for the elections, informed sources told GVS.

Addressing a post-cabinet meeting press conference, Ministering for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz said that the PTI-led government is striving to make the Senate elections free and fair. “Controversies have always surrounded the Senate elections. It is such an old practice that it is assumed that in the elections, [horse trading] will surely take place,” he said.

The move to hold elections early was proposed by Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry, according to sources, which was agreed to by the prime minister and other members of the cabinet.

Through the open voting process, everyone will know who voted for whom in the Senate elections.

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The government, according to sources, has decided to approach the Supreme Court to ensure the polls are held in February. However, Chaudhry opposed the move, saying that the government should instead consult the Opposition for any electoral reforms.

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.

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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.