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Senate polls dispute intensifies

Top Story

December 18, 2020

Senate polls dispute intensifies

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: Controversy over the Senate elections has intensified as the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) have rejected early polls in the Upper House of the Parliament, while the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has taken its ally Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) into confidence over the matter.

Parliamentary leader of the PPP in Senate Sherry Rehman said a dangerous turn lies ahead for the country. She said the parliament has been dishonoured in just two and a half years.

“They do not consider the Constitution anything,” Sherry Rehman said of the government. “The government wants to impose a daku raaj on the entire country,” she went on to say. She said the government was nervous after the Lahore rally, which is why it was trying to change the Senate elections schedule.

Sherry Rehman questioned how the Senate polls can be held before the senators’ terms expiry. “Who is the government to change the dates when the authority lies with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to formulate the schedule of the Senate elections?” she said.

She asked what was the government’s urgency that a forty-year-old schedule was being changed. “It is obvious that they are extremely rattled by the opposition and by the prospect of losing their own disgruntled members,” she said.

Senator Sherry Rehman said the single divisible vote and secret ballot cannot be changed without recourse to a full amendment to the Constitution. Former chairman Senate Raza Rabbani has termed the government’s decision to hold the election in February “unconstitutional”.

“No party has the authority to decide when the Senate election will be held,” Raza Rabbani said while speaking to a private news channel. “The Election Commission is an independent institution and it has this authority,” he said.

The JamiatUlema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, called the cabinet “ignorant”. He said the government was sabotaging the Constitution.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan discussed the current political situation and the Senate elections with the MQM-Pakistan leadership.

A delegation of MQM and the prime minister held a meeting attended by Federal Ministers Asad Umar, Ali Haider Zaidi, Aminul Haque, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, MNA Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Sindh MPA Haleem Adil Sheikh, Kanwar Naveed Jamil and Haider Rizvi.

They discussed in detail the political situation in as well as the Senate elections, according to the Prime Minister Office. On this occasion, the MQM delegation expressed solidarity with the prime minister and his party regarding the Senate elections.

On the other hand, Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Javed Khan has clarified that he has not given suggestion of Senate elections voting through show of hands.

Talking to Geo News, he said the Attorney General Office has given the suggestion of open ballot paper in the Senate elections. He said the name of the voter is written on the open ballot. He said a voter in the Senate elections has to cast many votes, and such voting is not even possible through show of hand.

Meanwhile, the PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz announced to go to the Supreme Court if the government tried to hold the Senate elections ahead of time.

Talking to media persons, Maryam said the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) would go to the Supreme Court besides exploring all the other options. She said why show of hands was not done at the time of the election of Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani. She said this showed that Imran Khan has no confidence on his own parliamentarians.

She said the government will have to go no matter what it do. “We won’t sit at our homes if you go for early Senate polls,” she warned. Maryam said the PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif has himself ordered the party to resign and the mental condition of those who were making assumptions was regrettable.

“It is not the job of the government to hold elections, and this job rests with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP),” she said, adding that the Senate election can’t be held through an ordinance, but through the Parliament. She claimed that Imran Khan also wanted to use the court for his own wishes and desires.

Maryam warned that the PDM and PML-N will not allow the government to change the Constitution as per its ‘needs’. She said the chief election commissioner is the constitutional head of Election Commission and “harassing” him by the government was condemnable.

“The Election Commission is a constitutional body which should be operated as per the Constitution,” she maintained, adding that Imran Khan used to point fingers towards the ECP while standing on the container. She asked the chief election commissioner to refuse any unconstitutional demand of the government.

“The entire nation is watching the Election Commission,” she said, and maintained that the PTI foreign funding case was the longest case in the history of Pakistan, and holding it for unlimited period was unconstitutional.

She alleged that the government was putting pressure on the Election Commission of Pakistan but this institution can’t be used for a single party and By-elections cannot be held on 500 seats.

She warned that if by-elections were announced, the PDM parties, their leaders and workers will not remain in their homes and none of them is wearing bangles. She said no one cares about threats of the government.

“During the Lahore rally, the selected prime minister was playing with his dogs. Playing with dogs and playing with national institutions is totally different and the nation will take the price from you,” she said.

Maryam said that the name of the NAB Chairman is Imran Khan. To a question about any possible deal, she said the time of deal has passed and now it will be similar to betraying the nation.

To a question about Nawaz Sharif’s health and activities, Maryam asked, “Where is it written that a patient with low platelets count cannot eat pizza and burger. Papa Jones pizza can also be eaten.”

Replying to another question, she said all videos related to Judge Arshad Malik were safe. “The videos are never buried,” she added.

Talking about Lahore rally, Maryam said she was thankful to Almighty Allah for the success. She said the acceptance of the narrative of PDM’s movement by the people has become unbearable for the government. She concluded that the government has to go and PDM will not give any NRO to it.

Reacting to Maryam’s presser, Special Assistant to Punjab Chief Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said the Calibri Queen is misleading the people of Pakistan in the hatred and enmity of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Dr Firdous said the Calibri Queen likes a democracy which gives her ruling power. “She is a certified liar as she used to say that I neither have any property in Pakistan nor abroad,” said Dr Firdous.

She said that the difference between opposition and the government is that the leader of opposition is a certified dacoit whereas the honourable court has declared Prime Minister Imran Khan as Sadiq and Amin. She said that corruption, ghost companies and money laundering is the distinction of Sharif family, while Imran Khan neither do nepotism nor nurture the family but destroyed the imposed two-family system with peoples’ power.

Dr Firdous said that Maryam remembered after two and a half years that this is a rigged government because she considers that democracy is right which gives her power. “She should answer why she along with her bondwomen kept silence for a long time,” Dr Firdous said.

She said that Imran Khan wants to bring reforms in the electoral process of the country, but the PDM leadership is creating hurdles and was not ready to accept it. She said that a clear majority in the Senate is the right of the PTI. She said that opposition started hue and cry on the announcement of “show of hands” in the senate elections because Sharif family was expert in horse trading and holding institutions hostage with the help of looted money. She said that the incumbent government is determined to run the state institutions according to law and constitution and the government will not take any step which is against the Constitution.

Meanwhile, the PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Thursday held telephonic contacts with the leadership of the PDM and stressed for formulating a joint strategy in the wake of government plan for the early Senate elections.

Bilawal held the telephonic conversation with the National Party President Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, senior leader of the Awami National Party (ANP) and former chief minister of KP Amir Haider Khan Hoti, and Chairman Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, and invited them for 13th martyrdom anniversary of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto at Garhi Khuda Bux in Larkana on December 27.

During telephonic contacts, the issues of national politics with focus on the government plan for early Senate polls came under discussion.