ISLAMABAD: In an attempt to pave the way for government`s plan to pass a constitutional amendment for an open ballot in the upcoming Senate elections, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday failed to convince the leadership of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazal (JUI-F).
A senior member of the ruling PML-N told Dawn.com that representatives of the MQM, PTI, JI, and Fata welcomed the government’s move, but the leadership of the PPP and JUI-F expressed concern regarding the govt’s move to bring a 22nd constitutional amendment in the upcoming session of Parliament.
The PML-N member said senior PPP and the JUI-F leaders asked the ruling party to activate the electoral reforms committee for comprehensive electoral reforms, instead of changes in the Constitution for the Senate elections.
The ruling party member said the PM has asked PPP and JUI-F parliamentary leaders to rethink about the amendment until tomorrow, as it was necessary to stop horse-trading in the upcoming polls.
It is important to mention here that the PML-N requires the unconditional support of the PPP for a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate as the party holds a majority in the Upper House.
The prime minister will also meet parliamentary leaders on Saturday to discuss the constitutional amendment for an open ballot.
Speaking to the media after meeting with the premier, former PM Raja Pervez Ashraf said his party leadership believes that the govt should take all the political leadership on board before any constitutional amendment.
“We are against any kind of rigging and horse-trading in the elections, but it is important for the government to build a consensus before introducing any constitutional amendment in Parliament,” Ashraf said.
He also stated that the PPP leadership demands electoral reforms for transparent elections in future.
Meanwhile, JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazalur Rehman said political parties should take action against members who cast their votes for other parties in the Senate elections, and that the constitutional amendment would make the loyalty of party members doubtful.
On the other hand, MQM leader Dr. Farooq Sattar said that his party will favour the amendment, while PTI leader Dr Arif Alvi said party chairman Imran Khan had already welcomed the govt’s move.
JI Parliamentary Leader Sahibzada Tariqullah and Federal Minister for Textile, Abbas Khan Afridi said that they will support the govt’s move in this regard.
The govt has drafted an amendment bill to bring crucial to the Constitution in a bid to hold the upcoming elections to 52 Senate seats in a manner that will end the ‘undemocratic practice of horse-trading’.
Three new amendments are being considered to allow changes in existing procedures and rules for conducting election for senate seats. The proposed act will be called the Constitution (22nd Amendment) Act, 2015.
The draft suggests that elections to the Senate will be held through open voting instead of the secret ballot that is currently in vogue.