KARACHI, March 2: The elections to the senate of Pakistan augur well for the stability of the democratic process in the country and the fact that they took place is a victory for the democratic system as a whole. These views were expressed by many lawmakers during the brief session of the Sindh Assembly and while talking to media persons in the corridors of the assembly after casting their votes.
Speaker Nisar Ahmad Khuhro, after the house was called to order at 11.30am on Friday, termed the day of the senate elections as historic, saying the institution which ought to have had continuity was disrupted time and again in the past.
Local Govt Minister Agha Siraj Durrani expressed his satisfaction at his party winning the senate election and criticised the tiny PML-L group for taking part in it, he alleged, to waste public money and the time of the lawmakers. He recalled that in the past senate elections were used to set up “corruption bazaars” for buying voters like livestock.
MQM's Khalid Ahmad said peaceful senate elections were the outcome of the reconciliation efforts of President Zardari and MQM chief Altaf Hussain.
On the suggestion of Law Minister Ayaz Soomro that the session be adjourned till Monday to allow lawmakers to fully participate in the senate elections, the chair called it a day after 20 minutes' session.
Talking to media persons, Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah termed the senate election a continuation of the ongoing democratic process in the country.
He said, unlike this time, in the past even people who had two or three votes would be arrested for alleged crimes like stealing goats in order to strong-arm them into supporting the government candidate, and attributed the holding of the senate election in a democratic spirit to the vision of President Zardari.
Federal Minister Syed Khurshid Shah said the credit for holding two elections to the upper house of parliament went to the elected government which succeeded in foiling conspiracies hatched by those who wanted to send the democratic dispensation packing before the Senate elections.
He said although by mistake Dr Arbab Rahim imposed the senate elections in Sindh, in a way he served democracy by involving all coalition parties of the government in the election process.
He said if the PML-L had enough lawmakers to win at least one seat, “we would have also accommodated him like others by allocating him a seat”.
Federal Minister Babar Ghauri said reports in the media of horse trading in the senate elections were regrettable, and added that he believed general election would be held not in October/November this year but in March next year.
According to Information Minister Shazia Marri elections were a symbol of democracy and that horse trading from the senate elections had been eliminated due to President Zardari's policies.
Nuzhat Pathan of the PML-L deplored that their members were being victimised for not withdrawing their candidates from the contest.
Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah of the PML-F, who was elected senator, said the 18th constitutional amendment had restored autonomy to the provinces and now responsibility had devolved on the senate to protect the rights of smaller provinces.