ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Law and Justice on Thursday passed the bill for open balloting in the Senate Election.

The meeting of the Standing Committee on Law and Justice was held under the chairmanship of Riaz Fatyana.

The committee in its less than half an hour meeting, considered the bill: “The Constitution (Twenty Sixth Amendment) Bill, 2020” and recommended with majority that the bill may be passed by the National Assembly.

The opposition members of the committee opposed the sudden voting and protested what they termed ‘bulldozing’ of the bill. However, Fatyana, on the other hand, sought consent of the participants on the bill.

Later on, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan while addressing a press conference at the Press Information Department (PID) said the three amendments to the Constitution would be presented in the Parliament next week ahead of the upcoming Senate elections.

Awan said a road map had been given to the political parties in the Parliament to stop the horse trading and buying of votes in elections.

He further said Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto signed the Charter of Democracy in May 2006 and one of its points was that indirect elections should be open and identifiable votes should be cast in it.

He went on to say that the reforms were a national agenda and nobody would want to get senators elected through use of money or corruption. He said the opposition parties did not support the presidential reference for transparent elections in the Senate.

According to the amendment to be made in Article 59(2) of the Constitution, an open vote will be cast instead of the single transferable vote in the Senate election, he explained.

While through another amendment in the article 63(1)(c) the dual nationals will be able to contest the upcoming Senate elections and elections of Parliament and provincial assemblies in future.

In case a dual national wins an election he would have to give a clear proof before taking oath as the legislator that he had renounced his foreign citizenship. If he will lose the election, the dual national will not need to renounce his foreign citizenship, he added.

Awan expressed the hope that many dual nationals would want to take part in the Senate elections.

To a question, he said the latest report of Transparency International was about the corruption done in the tenures of the previous governments.

Awan urged the opposition parties to support the government in undertaking electoral reforms in the Parliament.

Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2021

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