PPP questions ‘show of hand’ proposal for Senate elections

* Asif Ali Zardari says government should convene an APC on issue of horse-trading instead of dealing with it alone g Khursheed Shah says proposed procedure non-practicable

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Government’s move to introduce “show of hand” in the Senate elections rather secret ballot.

The PML-N government announced to bring a constitutional amendment in parliament and formed two committees to solicit opinions of political parties. The largest opposition party, PPP, responded at the top level when party’s Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari and leader of opposition in National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah questioned the move of the government. Asif Zardari’s response was veiled in terms of questioning the move of the government whereas Syed Khursheed bluntly opposed the move at this time when schedule of Senate elections was issue.

Former president and Co-Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Asif Ali Zardari in a statement said that electoral rigging and horse trading at multiple levels is a major issue that lies at the root of manipulated power transfer and needs to be addressed comprehensively in a holistic manner instead of looking for piecemeal solutions. “It is good that the government seems to have realized that horse trading in senate elections is a serious issue that has done great disservice to the Parliament and political processes and needs to be addressed, he said. However, rigging in elections and horse trading take place at multiple levels and need to be comprehensively addressed, he said.

“One hopes that the apparent realization on the part f the government to address horse trading will not be a political gimmickry but a first step towards comprehensive electoral reforms, he said and added that if the government is serious it should invite all political parties to decide on how best to prevent electoral rigging not only in the Senate but also in the National Assembly, the provincial Assemblies and now also in the local bodies polls, he said.

Zardari recalled that we recently witnessed the near break down of the civilian and political structures due to the demonstrations and protests against fraud and rigging in the 2013 general elections. The parliament and the government were saved from total collapse by the unprecedented unity and commitment of political but it should not lull us into believing that issues in electoral fraud will not rear their ugly heads in the future, he said. He urged that electoral reforms and preventing horse trading should be addressed by all parties together and not by the government alone.

The government should therefore convene a meeting of all political parties to address horse trading in senate elections as well as electoral fraud and rigging of all types including those recently agitated by Imran Khan’s Tehrik Insaf, he demanded. Syed Khursheed Shah, meanwhile termed “show of hand” procedure for Senate elections non-practicable at a time when the schedule for elections has already been issue. Also, the “show of hand” procedure is fraught with technical problems, Shah told the media and said that voters should have the choice to cast their vote. Shah said that PPP informed the government about its reservations about “show of hand” when its committee contacted us.

PML-N is facing a tricky situation in Balochistan, as a number of its legislators are feared to vote against the party line for candidates of liking in the upcoming Senate elections. And the biggest motive is big time money that will most likely exchange hands this time too for the success of favourite candidates. According to sources in PML-N, the situation for the party in Balochistan is not compatible with its scheme to win three general, one technocrat, one women and one minority seat, for which it has fielded candidates for the polls in March for Senate elections. Party insiders told Daily Times on Friday that some members of PML-N in provincial legislative assembly are certain to vote on their own rather than toeing the party line in the Senate elections and even didn’t participate in a meeting of the party Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired in Quetta, during his two-day visit to the provincial capital recently.

Source: Daily Times

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