Govt will accept Supreme Court verdict on Senate polls: Shah Mahmood Qureshi

MULTAN: The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that the government will accept the Supreme Court’s decision on the method of voting in the Senate elections.

“We have asked the Supreme Court for its opinion on holding Senate elections via a show of hands. Whatever the court decides will be accepted with an open heart,” said Qureshi.

During a media talk on Sunday, come a day after President Arif Alvi signed off on an ordinance that paves the way for Senate polls via an “open and identifiable ballot.” President Arif Alvi signs ordinance for open balloting in Senate elections.

Qureshi said that the nation must decide for itself “who desires an end to corrupt practices and who wishes to promote Senate wheeling and dealing.” He pointed out that the Charter of Democracy signed by the PPP and PML-N in 2006 contains a section that expressly lays out that Senate elections will be held via open balloting the very change being sought by the government now. “Why are you now turning your back on the agreement?” he questioned. PDM vehemently opposes ordinance for Senate elections via a show of hands

“The Opposition must tell us why they are so bent on setting up a market for the buying and selling of votes in the Senate elections,” the minister added. This buying and selling of votes “must come to an end” and this is the government’s aim. The government “does not have a two-thirds majority in the Senate” and was ready to work with the Opposition for a constitutional amendment to change the method of voting, “but unfortunately, the Opposition did not let this happen.”

On the other side, the opposition parties criticised the government decision. Pakistani people’s party (PPP) Senator Sherry Rehman said that the PTI government has issued ordinances regarding the Senate elections “overnight”, adding that the move is an “attack on the Constitution and the parliament.” Rehman added that the government “does not have a two-thirds majority to pass a constitutional amendment.”

“The Presidential Ordinance changing Senate elex balloting is entirely mala fides in intent, and represents an attack on the parliament, the courts and the constitution. It is a deliberate attempt at making the senate elections controversial. We had asked for comprehensive reforms.”

She further added: “The Govt is taking Pakistan into a constitutional crisis by issuing an overnight ordinance to change senate balloting mode while a reference on the same election is in court AND a bill to amend the constitution is still in the parliament! It will now be challenged at every forum.”

“Why did the government introduce an amendment only one month before the Senate polls? Sherry Rehman questioned. “Issuing ordinances overnight in this way is an attack on the Constitution as well as the parliament,” Rehman added that it is the job of the parliament to bring about constitutional amendments, adding that the government should have taken the Opposition’s viewpoints on board before issuing the ordinance.

Raja Furqan Ahmed

Raja Furqan Ahmed is the News Editor of The Pakistan Daily.

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