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Opposition, government tackle open Senate vote

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ISLAMABAD:

Opposition in the upper house of parliament on Saturday rejected the presidential ordinance on changing voting procedures in senatorial elections as “malicious and unconstitutional” and demanded the impeachment of President Arif Alvi.

The government, however, has put in place a strong defense of the ordinance, with Prime Minister’s adviser on parliamentary affairs Babar Awan saying the opposition could bring “an impeachment motion 100 times and the Treasury would defeat it 100 times.” .

President Sadiq Sanjrani chaired the requisitioned session of the Senate. Opposition leader Raja Zafarul Haq started the debate on the presidential ordinance on changes in the procedure for senatorial elections.

Since winning a landslide victory in the 2018 election, the PTI government has been eager to hold Senate elections with an open vote, which it says would promote transparency, but opposition parties have backed down. strongly opposed to the proposal.

Subsequently, the government introduced a constitutional amendment bill, an open vote in the senatorial elections. However, the National Assembly witnessed a boisterous session when the government proposed it. The bill has not yet been adopted by the assembly.

Previously, the government sent a reference to the Supreme Court, asking for the interpretation of the constitutional clauses concerning the mode of election. With the referral still pending with the Supreme Court, the president issued an order for the change in voting method.

Read more: Upper house polls: PTI can dominate, but not control the Senate

During the debate in the upper house, opposition MPs rejected the ordinance, declaring it malicious and unconstitutional. Former Senate Speaker Raza Rabbani said President Arif Ali should be indicted for issuing a malicious order aimed at advancing a party’s political agenda.

In response, Awan said the ordinance was issued in accordance with the Constitution. He challenged the opposition to bring forward an impeachment motion against “President Alvi a hundred times and the government would upset her a hundred times.”

Awan said the issue of the interpretation of the Constitution regarding the Senate election procedure was pending before the Supreme Court. He was awaiting the court decision before March 3 – the date of the Senate elections. “If so, this order will continue. If not, it will automatically expire. “

Information Minister Shibli Faraz told the House that there was a lot of talk about horse trading and financial transactions during the Senate elections. “The presidential ordinance is promulgated to restore the sanctity of the Senate. The Prime Minister is committed to ridding the country of corruption, ”he added.

Faraz urged the opposition to support the government’s efforts to eliminate corruption and the use of money in senatorial elections. “The Democracy Charter also talks about stopping the use of money in senatorial elections. Why is the opposition retreating now? “

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said the government issued the ordinance in accordance with the Constitution. “If Imran Khan wants to bring transparency to the Senate, he is against it,” he added. The session was then adjourned indefinitely.

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