Ruckus in NA as govt tables bill on Senate open ballot

Staff Reporter

The federal government introduced a constitutional amendment bill in the National Assembly (NA) on Wednesday to hold the Senate’s elections through a show of hands. The move to bring greater transparency to the electoral exercise for the upper house of parliament. The 26th constitutional amendment bill was tabled by Federal Law Minister Farogh Naseem during a session marred by protest of the opposition with Speaker Asad Qaiser in the seat.

The bill includes amendments to allow Senate elections to be held by open ballot and to allow dual nationals to contest elections. Addressing the house, Naseem said that the government wanted to hold the elections in the upper house via open ballot method. The 25-point agenda of the session also included the Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) adjournment motion on the hike in electricity prices and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) notice on the lower production of the cotton crop this year.
During the session, PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal accused Speaker Asad Qaiser of bias against the opposition members, saying that often their microphones are turned off in order to suppress their voice.

He urged other opposition members to raise their hands if they were also unsatisfied with the performance of NA speaker.

In his defence, the speaker said that he conducts the proceedings of the House in accordance with the rules. “Please come to my office, I will address your reservations,” he told Ahsan. However, the PML-N leader remained unconvinced.
“In the past, the opposition members were allowed to hold speeches for more than two hours. If we’re not allowed to address the house then there will be confrontation,” he added.

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