Govt mulls holding Senate election in February: Shibli Decides to approach Election Commission

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Staff Reporter

Islamabad

The government has decided to hold the Senate elections in February instead of March and has decided to approach the Election Commission for consultation and seek the opinion of the Supreme Court for a show of hands.
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz, briefing the media after the federal cabinet meeting, said that there are always allegations of horse-trading in the Senate elections. It has been decided that guideline will be taken from the Supreme Court for the show of hands. No government has ever held a Senate election from a show of hands. Hopefully we will get guidelines from the Supreme Court, he added.
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.
Reminding the people of PTI’s promise to bringing about reforms in the electoral process, he said that PM Imran Khan had dismissed 20 members of provincial assemblies.
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.
After pondering over the matter, the government decided to move the apex court regarding the matter, he said, adding that the government seeks an election that is conducted through “show of hands”.
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.
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 tell us to throw out their [corruption] cases,” he said.
Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Javed Khan advised the federal cabinet on Tuesday to consult the apex court before

amending the Senate election laws.
The AGP while giving his opinion referred to a three-judge bench order wherein it was ruled that the method of Senate polls

either by secret ballot or show of hands is the choice of legislature.
The AGP said the Senate election was scheduled to be held in March to fill the seats as mentioned in Article 59 of the

Constitution.
At present, section 122 (6) of the Election Act 2017 provides for election to the Senate by secret ballot.
Article 226 says that all elections under constitution other than those of the prime minister and chief ministers shall be

held by secret ballot.
In view of Article 226 of the Constitution, it has been assumed that the election for Senate is required to be carried out through secret ballot,

unless the Constitution is amended to hold it by another method.
AGP Khalid said that there is also another legal interpretation under which polls for Senate are not considered elections in the

Constitution.