PESHAWAR, March 1: The members of treasury and opposition benches in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly spoke at length on Thursday about blocking sale of votes in Senate polls but failed to devise a joint strategy for the purpose.
The lawmakers continued to deliver speeches for more than two hours against horse trading and in favour of transparency in the Senate polls, but the whole discussion remained inconclusive.
Speaker Karamatullah Khan Chagharmatti invited the members to a dinner at his official residence ‘to work out a joint strategy to block horse trading and corrupt practices in Senate polls’.
The members expressed serious reservations over the candidature of an independent candidate, who belongs to tribal area but contests elections from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said that it looked awkward that a person hailing from tribal area without having affiliation with any political party was contesting Senate polls from the province by using money.
“We will not allow those, who are landing in the parliament through parachute,” he remarked, adding that under the constitution members were bound to obey their parties’ discipline.
Opposition members demanded that media should be given full access to cover polling process to ensure transparency, but government neither opposed nor supported it. In previous Senate elections media was barred from coverage.
Speaking on a point of order, opposition leader Akram Khan Durrani suggested that media should be allowed to cover the voting process. He said that government should encourage transparency in the polls and discourage horse trading and use of money in the process.
Speaker Chagharmatti said that it was Elections Commission’s responsibility to allow or deny access to the process. He urged both sides of the house to keep the process free and fair.
Interestingly the commission has set up polling booth in the conference room of the assembly secretariat instead of the main hall. The commission has asked members not to use cellular phones during voting.
In a dramatic development, Pakistan People’s Party members disowned Shah Faisal Afridi, a resident of Khyber Agency and independent candidate for Senate polls.
Minister for Health Syed Zahir Ali, also former provincial president of PPP, told the house that his party completely disowned an independent candidate on general seats. “We have only two candidates on general seats and don’t support any independent candidate,” he clarified.
It is worth mentioning that PPP had earlier withdrawn its third candidate on the general seat, Shamroz Khan Jadoon from Abbottabad, and nominated independent candidate Mr Afridi.