ISLAMABAD: Expressing apprehensions and casting doubts on the federal government’s decision to move a constitution amendment bill for holding Senate polls through open vote, the country’s two major opposition political parties — the PML-N and the PPP — termed it a delayed move, but said they would give their opinion on the matter only after the formal presentation of the bill by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in parliament.
Talking to Dawn on Wednesday, senior leaders and key office-bearers of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) said since their parties were at present participating in proceedings of the parliament, their members would definitely take part in the legislative process and discuss the matter in the parliamentary committees and on the floor of both houses of parliament.
“The constitution amendments are not piecemeal. If you think there are faults in the election system, then you need to bring a whole package,” said PML-N’s senior vice-president Shahid Khaqan Abbasi while commenting on Tuesday’s decision of the federal cabinet to table a bill in the parliament to amend the constitution for holding Senate polls through open vote.
“Such things are not done in haste,” the PML-N leader said.
Mr Abbasi said that if the government was sincere about electoral reforms, then it should bring it in the form of a package and the opposition would also come up with suggestions, adding that they had already demanded that there should be no role of the army in the conduct of elections.
He said that such matters were also negotiated among political parties and recalled that the PML-N government during its previous tenure had constituted a parliamentary committee to discuss electoral reforms and the committee had even accommodated those parties which had only one member in the parliament.
Mr Abbasi claimed that the government in the garb of Senate elections wanted to introduce three amendments to the constitution, including the one person-specific amendment to protect a member of the federal cabinet and wanted its implementation with retrospective effect.
The PML-N leader alleged that the government was doing all this because of the fear that its own members would not vote for the ruling party’s candidates in the upcoming Senate polls.
He said there would be no talks with the government outside the parliament, but their members would definitely take part in discussions on the bills and other issues at the committee level and inside the parliament.
Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2021