Upset in Senate election

IT is a good omen that despite all rumour mongering and apprehensions the process of Senate election completed on Monday with the election of Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the House. The year 2018 is year of elections and successful and timely conduct of Senate election has paved the way for democratic transition.
Election of the Chairman of the Senate from Balochistan is also significant in that Sadiq Sanjrani has become the first one to hold this coveted office from the province. This is in line with the increased focus on Balochistan, which is going to become focus of developmental and geo-strategic activities because of a multitude of factors including China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). This may also help mitigate the so-called sense of deprivation among people of the province but it depends on the role and contribution that the new Chairman would be able to play in this regard. However, there were also some unfortunate aspects of the Senate elections and that of the election of the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman. The process of manipulation of Senate election began with the engineered change in Balochistan where a minority was brought forward and then election of independents as Senator from the province. This led to reduction in numbers tally of PML (N) that was set to assume the leadership of the upper house because of its numerical strength at the Centre and in the two provinces. There are allegations of unprecedented horse-trading both during election of the Senators and polling for the offices of Chairman and the Deputy Chairman. PML (N) reportedly got commitments of 53 votes at the time of entering the Senate Hall but interestingly lost seven votes during the voting exercise and that is why PML (N) received the result with an utter surprise. It was also strange that there is party-based system in the country but none of the political party succeeded in getting its nominee for the top slot elected. There are lessons for all parties especially PML (N) to learn from the Senate elections and hopefully they would work to plug the loopholes in the system. There is dire need to opt for direct election of the Senators and make it mandatory for independents to join some party before election of Chairman and Deputy Chairman to guard against horse-trading and blackmail.

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