ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Cabinet has decided to table a bill in Parliament to amend the Constitution for holding the Senate elections through open vote.
The decision was taken during the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“The government wants the (Senate) polls to be held in a transparent manner and without horse-trading. This is why we want Senate polls to be held through an open ballot,” Information Minister Shibli Faraz told the media after the meeting.
He said that in the past, money was used in Senate elections and votes were bought making the House election a mockery. He asked what was the use of an upper house in which people come through purchasing of votes.
Faraz also said that people opposing the proposed move are forgetting that their own party had demanded open ballot in the past.
“The government will present a constitutional amendment bill in the parliament so that Senate polls are held through open ballot,” he said.
Already the government petitioned to the Supreme Court, seeking direction to hold the upcoming Senate elections through open ballot. The decision is pending.
Meanwhile, Dawn newspaper quoted a Cabinet member as saying that Prime Minister Khan tasked his advisor parliamentary affairs Babar Awan to table a bill in the National Assembly for holding Senate elections through open ballot when the adviser was giving a briefing on the status of the government's reference in the Supreme Court.
Awan said the government had already laid two bills — Constitution Amendment Bill and Electoral Reforms Bill — in Parliament on the basis of which desired legislation could be done for an open ballot.
The Cabinet member said Awan had called a meeting of his ministry and its legislation branch to devise a roadmap on how to proceed with the matter in Parliament.
It has been proposed that since Senate polls could not be held through show of hand because every voter has to show his preference in the ballot paper. Therefore, to ensure open identity of the voter, the voter should be required to mention his name on the back side of the ballot paper, according to Dawn newspaper.
Senate elections will be held in the first half of next month and prime minister Khan's ruling Pakistan Tehreek-I-Insaf is wary that its own members may vote a gay party policy, according to Opposition parties that are against the move.