Govt to move constitutional amendment for show of hands in Senate pollings, vows PM Imran

Updated 17 Nov 2020

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Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks to the media in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV
Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks to the media in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said that the government has decided to move a constitutional amendment in the Parliament to introduce a 'show of hands', during voting in the Senate elections, instead of secret ballots, as part of its efforts to bring about electoral reforms in the country.

While speaking to the media in Islamabad, the prime minister said that "everyone says that money is exchanged in Senate election" and recalled that the ruling PTI had expelled 20 of its own MPAs from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after it was found that they "sold their votes" in 2018's polls of the upper house.

"What [the proposed amendment] would do is end the money exchange and corruption in the Senate electoral process," he explained. "Now it is up to the rest of the parties whether they will support this constitutional amendment because a two-thirds majority is needed which we (government) don't have.

"So we will know if all parties agree to this because everyone says that money is exchanged in Senate election, everyone says that."

He said the government will also move two other electoral reforms, including e-voting and voting rights for overseas Pakistanis. The reason behind introducing electoral reforms in the country, the premier said, was that he wanted elections in Pakistan to be free and fair so that the "loser accepts their defeat" instead of levelling rigging allegations. He noted that the Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Senate elections were approaching as well.

The premier also talked about rigging allegations following the 2013 and 2018 general elections. He said that in 2013, all parties including PML-N, which had won, had agreed that the election was rigged and 133 petitions by different people were filed in the Election Commission of Pakistan. The PTI, he said, demanded that polling in four constituencies be investigated.

"Why did we say four constituencies? A government cannot be formed through four constitutencies, PTI would not have come into power. We said this so that after an audit [of the four constituencies] is held [...] whatever had happened would have come out in the open.

"Once the [facts] would come forward, the shortcomings could have been overcome so that the next election is transparent," said the prime minister and added that his party had approached the Parliament, ECP as well as the Supreme Court so that an investigation could be held. After exhausting all legal options for a year, the party arranged a 126-day long sit-in "so that the electoral process can be fixed", he said.

He then addressed rigging allegations in the 2018 elections and said that the PTI had filed more petitions in the ECP than the opposition. The premier said that in the 2018 polls, the caretaker government as well as the chief election commissioner and the polling staff in Sindh and Punjab were selected by the PML-N and the PPP. He also pointed out that his government had constituted a committee to address the opposition's grievances over election results and said that opposition members only attended one meeting.

"This was their seriousness in 2018," he remarked.

"I am putting these figures forward [to clarify] that we did not have any role in [2018 election]. We did not elect election commission members, all the staff was their (PML-N’s) own as they were in power," he declared.

The premier’s press talk comes two days after the polls in Gilgit-Baltistan, where both PML-N and PPP accused PTI of rigging. The prime minister, however, did not address those allegations in today's media briefing.

Yesterday, PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had claimed that there was "open and naked rigging" in tge GB election. In a press conference, Bilawal had said that results were manipulated "overnight" for elections on seats that the PPP was winning and the party was declared to have lost them during the day. Bilawal warned Islamabad of “dire consequences if the rigging in elections is not reversed”.

PML-N also rejected the election results, alleging that the people’s mandate had been stolen. The party, which ruled the region with 16 seats for five years, has now been reduced to only two, the Diamer and Ghizer seats, that its candidates have won.

PML-N’s vice president Maryam Nawaz said: “Neither did the PTI have any existence in GB previously nor will it have one now.”

Information Minister Shibli Faraz, however, rubbished the claims, saying that the opposition's allegation was proof that it was trying to find an excuse for its “imminent defeat”.

The complete but unofficial results of all the 23 constituencies, where polling was held on Sunday, show that the PTI has emerged as the single largest party with 10 seats, followed by seven independents. The PPP won three seats, the PML-N two and the Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen, which had a seat adjustment arrangement with the PTI, got one seat.

With the possible inclusion of four, out of six reserved seats for women, and two out of three reserved seats for technocrats, the total number of seats of the PTI and its allies will become 16 in the 33-member GBLA, indicating that it will need the support of only one more winning candidate to form the government.