Islamabad: Discussing the government’s decision to hold polls for the 51 seats of the Senate, a month before the schedule, Parliamentary Leader of the PPP in the Senate, Senator Sherry Rehman said, “It is quite clear that this is being done to disrupt the PDM movement, and to make up for unhappy government MPs whose votes PTI is not sure of, but what the federal government does not realise is that this is an illegal and unconstitutional act. The term of the current senators will end on March 11, 2020 so, holding elections before that is wrong on many counts and can potentially mire the country in a constitutional crisis ”.
“How can the Senate polls be held before the senators’ terms expires? Who is the government to change the dates when the authority lies with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to formulate the schedule of the Senate’s elections? Under Article 213 of the Constitution, only the ECP has the right to announce a date for elections. What is the government’s urgency that a forty-year-old schedule is being changed?” she asked. “It is obvious that they are extremely rattled by the opposition and by the prospect of losing their own disgruntled members. “
“The issue of transparency was addressed in an early report, but the government totally ignored it, so that cannot be the issue. “
Rehman said, “Article 226 of the Constitution explicitly provides for all elections other than those of the prime minister and chief ministers to be held, by saying they “shall’ be held by secret ballot. There should be no confusion after this”.
“The single divisible vote and secret ballot cannot be changed without recourse to a full amendment in the Constitution. Article59 (2) states that elections to the Senate shall be held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote. This is a formula that was carefully made to protect the system from the unbridled dominance of the majority. In any case, an amendment in the law can only be done through the parliament as under Article 186, the Supreme Court can only give its opinion, and we hope the courts will support parliamentary supremacy over executive fiat.”
The Senator said, “It would be far more productive if the government spent its time and resources tackling issues which the public is facing. We are going through unprecedented times and people are tired of facing one crisis after the other. Food inflation and joblessness is increasing, there’s gas/LNG shortage and the recent findings of the inquiry commission on the petroleum shortage makes it pretty obvious that Tabahi sarkar is struggling to run the country.”
The Parliamentary Leader of the PPP in the Senate, Senator Sherry Rehman concluded by saying, “The Constitution of Pakistan cannot be changed on the whims of this government and it can certainly not be bypassed. The ECP rules cannot override the constitution, which is the back door the government is seeking because they are clearly rattled by the opposition. Only the parliament can make laws and despite this government’s efforts to make it redundant, we will not let them bulldoze the rights of our parliament”.