THE Election Commission of Pakistan has announced elections for four Senate seats from the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas which will be held on March 20, a week after the election of the chairman and the deputy chairman of the Senate. Polling for Fata Senate seats was postponed on March 5, when a presidential order was issued to stop elections after horse-trading allegations.
Dawn spoke to Dr Syed Ghazi Gulab Jamal, a representative of a group of MNAs from Fata who filed a petition against the order, to discuss his views on the deferral of the Senate elections for Fata members.
Q. How do you see the postponement of the Senate elections for Fata members?
A. Naturally, it’s not good. That’s why we complained to the ECP, the superior courts, everybody in the APC (All Parties Conference) and also to the prime minister.
Q. What is your position on the presidential order to postpone the Senate elections for Fata candidates?
A. We were with the political process for instance when the APC was called for the 22nd Amendment, we supported it. But when the amendment was not brought to the house, why was Fata subjected to it.
If it was alleged that Fata candidates were involved in horse-trading, there were maximum complaints of horse-trading in the provinces as well. It may have happened in Fata previously, but this time this issue was in the provinces.
Q. Do you think that the electoral process for Fata Senators will be smooth now?
A. We hope elections will be held on the 20th and no new issue emerges.
Q. How do you feel about the absence of Fata senators during the election of the chairman and the deputy chairman of the Senate?
A. We were very upset. We were going to have eight members out of which seven would have been definitely together, only one of them has a political party affiliation. We had a chance to get two seats i.e. the chairman and the deputy chairman of Senate. Seven to eight is a large number in the Senate. I am sure we have bigger numbers than Jamiat [JUI-F], who got the post of deputy chairman.
Q. Do you think the Fata senators were deprived of the opportunity to bargain for the deputy chairman post?
A. We the people of Fata have felt that this was a conspiracy against us to keep us out from the chairman and deputy chairman elections and we have been ousted from this election.
Q. How do you see the allegations of corruption against Fata senators and MPs?
A. As far as corruption is concerned, this is not limited only to Fata, the whole of our society is corrupt. But this time the allegation was more valid for members of provincial assemblies and not only those belonging to Fata. Only those candidates were making allegations against Fata members who knew they were out of the running and were trying to defame the whole of Fata.
Q. Do you plan to ask your newly-elected senators to bring a no-confidence motion against the chairman and the deputy chairman because they were deprived of electing their own candidates?
A. We have not discussed it yet. Let the process of the 20th come to an end, then we will sit with them and see what can be our future course of action on this issue.
Published in Dawn March 18th , 2015