PTI Govt might hold Senate elections in Feb: Sources

By Abdullah Zahid.

ISLAMABAD – The Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf PIT) might decide to hold early Senate elections, scheduled to be held in March 2021, sources said Tuesday, as the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) mounts up pressure on the Centre.

The elections were scheduled for March; however, some ministers have informed The Pakistan Daily that the government will move the Supreme Court to hold the elections.

The decision was taken by Prime Minister Imran Khan during the meeting of the federal cabinet.

The government also decided to hold these election through “show of hands”. The sources said that the federal government would approach the apex court in this regard, where it would file a reference under Article 186 of the Constitution of Pakistan for the changes.

Under the reference, the government would seek a recommendation from the apex court on the matter and proceed under the guidelines for holding the Senate elections through a show of hands process without making any amendments in the constitution.

Addressing a post-cabinet meeting press conference, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz said that the PTI-led government is striving to make the Senate elections free and fair.

“Controversies have always surrounded the Senate elections. It is such an old practice that it is assumed that in the elections, [horse trading] will surely take place,” he said.

He said that the Supreme Court had issued a short order regarding free and fair elections, following which the government had introduced a bill in the National Assembly.

The information minister said that the government mulled over getting the bill ratified through several means — either through a constitutional amendment, executive order, or the election commission.

Faraz said that the government expects to get guidance from the Supreme Court long before the Senate elections.

“This is in favour of all parties,” he said.

What transpired during the cabinet meeting

The move to hold elections early was proposed by Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry, according to sources, which was agreed to by the prime minister and other members of the cabinet.

Through the open voting process, everyone will know who voted for whom in the Senate elections.

The government, according to sources, has decided to approach the Supreme Court to ensure the polls are held in February. However, Chaudhry opposed the move, saying that the government should instead consult the Opposition for any electoral reforms.

“We are ready to talk to the Opposition on electoral reforms,” answered the prime minister. “[However] Whenever we try to talk to the Opposition, they started to ask for an NRO,” he said.

During the meeting, Attorney General Khalid Javed Khan put forth his legal opinion on holding the elections early while Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan also shed light on the constitutional and political aspects of the move.

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