A video of an alleged ‘horse-trading’ incident came to the forefront on Tuesday showing the exchange of cash for votes before the 2018 Senate elections.
The video shows a man handing over large sums of money, reportedly Rs20 million, to various provincial lawmakers belonging to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf and others. The money was given to secure their votes for the PPP and its candidate during the 2018 Upper House polls.
The video shows incumbent K-P law minister Sultan Muhammad and Sardar Idrees, who can be seen counting the money and signing an undertaking.
Also seen in the video are former PTI MPA Meraj Hamyoon and MPA Dena Khan, former PPP MPA Muhammad Ali Bacha and others receiving cash for their support.
Sources said the future of the provincial law minister in PTI is now ‘bleak’ after the video surfaced and he could be removed from his ministry.
Open vote, early elections
Since securing an overwhelming win in the 2018 elections, the PTI government has been eager to hold Senate elections early through an open vote. While the ruling party has claimed that the latter would promote transparency, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) has sternly opposed and termed it an attempt by the government to prevent its lawmakers from switching loyalties.
Subsequently, the government presented a bill seeking to amend the Constitution for an open vote in the Senate elections. Though it was passed from the standing committee concerned, the National Assembly witnessed a noisy session when the government presented the 26th constitutional amendment bill in NA. The bill has yet to be passed by the assembly.
On early elections, the Election Commission of Pakistan clarified that according to Article 224(3) of the Constitution, elections cannot be held before the 30-day period on seats that will fall vacant after the expiry of the term of the members of the Senate. “This means elections on vacant Senate seats cannot be held before February 10, 2021,” it had stated; leaving the government’s hope of seeing the elections happening in February alive without giving any surety. The ECP had also suggested that the Senate elections could take place in the first week of March.
The federal government has also sought the Supreme Court’s opinion on whether the Senate elections could be held through open ballot by amending the Election Act 2017 that requires simple legislation. The presidential reference is being heard in the apex court pending a decision.
Seeing the strong resistance from the opposition in the NA, President Dr Arif Alvi on February 6 signed off the Election Amendment Ordinance, 2021, under which upcoming Senate elections could be held through open balloting.
The ordinance, which amends sections 33, 86 and 122 of the Election Act 2017, was announced with immediate effect. Its enforcement will be subject to the outcome of a presidential reference pending before SC.
Earlier, the Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan also clarified that the Senate elections would be held through open ballot and not through show of hands. He had clarified that the Senate elections were not possible through show of hands as voters use votes for more than one seat in the Senate elections. However, he had said that the name of the voter will be written on every vote and hence, it will be considered an open poll.
The opposition has engaged the government in the legal battle as well, arguing that the Supreme Court could interpret the constitution but not make a new law.
credit : https://tribune.com.pk/