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President Alvi seeks Supreme Court opinion on Senate open ballot voting

ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi on Wednesday approved a proposal from Prime Minister Imran Khan seeking the opinion of the Supreme Court on holding the Senate elections through open ballot and show of hands to end the practice of horse-trading.

A statement by the Press Information Department (PID) said that president Alvi has approved PM Imran’s proposal to send a reference to the apex court under Article 186 of the Constitution which was filed by Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Javed Khan.

“The president has sought the opinion of the apex court on the premier’s proposal to hold the elections using open ballot/show of hands,” the statement said.

In the reference, the president has sought the Supreme Court’s opinion on amending Section 122(6) of the Election Act, 2017 without amending the Constitution, it added.

According to the reference, the government has decided to introduce a “show of hands” in the upcoming Senate elections because the method would bring transparency to the election process.

It added that the Constitution of Pakistan currently does not provide clarity about the process of conducting the Senate elections.

The government also said that the election for the Senate is conducted in accordance with the Election Act of 2017, therefore, it is possible to introduce the idea of open-balloting in the Senate.

Earlier this month, the federal government had decided to hold the Upper House polls in February and invoke the advisory jurisdiction of the apex court on the matter of open voting. The decision was made during a meeting of the federal cabinet presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The PTI government’s tender to prompt the Senate polls was designed at upsetting the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) plan to procrastinate elections by resigning from the federal and provincial assemblies.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday ruled out the possibility of early elections and categorically stated:

“Senate elections would be held on time in accordance with the law”.

“The elections are to be held for 52 seats of the upper house because as many members of the 104-member Senate will retire on March 11,” ECP further stated.

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