Asif Ali Zardari proposes jointly contesting Senate polls under PDM banner

LAHORE, (MANEND NEWS): As the date for Senate elections comes closer, political manoeuvring nears its peak with both the ruling party and the Opposition devising plans to secure a majority in the upper house of the Parliament. 

Sources told Geo News that the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) is mulling over jointly contesting the Senate poll. This idea has been proposed by PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari. He believes that a joint-candidature would allow the Opposition alliance to secure more seats. 

The final decision will be made during the 11-party alliance’s meeting slated for February 4.

Meanwhile in Punjab, sources told Geo News that Chief Minister Usman Buzdar continues to contact assembly members of Shehbaz Sharif-led PML-N and is trying to bring back estranged PTI members. 

At least two PML-N MPAs are scheduled to meet the provincial chief minister this evening, the source added. CM Buzdar will also meet estranged PTI lawmaker Khawaja Dawood Salmani. 

Yesterday, PML-N MPA Azhar Abbas Chandia had called on CM Buzdar to discuss public problems of his constituency.

According to Radio Pakistan, CM Buzdar promised early solution to the constituency problems and said that his doors are open to all and solving problems of the assembly members is his responsibility. 

He added that Muzaffargarh has also been given a special development package as he is sincerely engaged in serving masses.

Political manoeuvring or horse-trading?

Political manoeuvre ahead of Senate polls is not an alien strategy in Pakistan’s political sphere. 

After the last elections in 2018, many political parties, including PTI and its coalition partner MQM-P, had approached the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) with ‘horse-trading’ allegations. 

But failing to provide evidence, the matter was concluded without finding a solution to stop horse-trading. 

This time, however, the ruling party has suggested conducting Senate polls through a show of hands instead of a secret ballot to eliminate horse-trading. 

Show of hands vs secret ballot

A presidential reference has been filed in the Supreme Court wherein President Dr Arif Alvi has asked whether the condition of secret ballot under Article 226 of the Constitution applies to Senate elections or not. 

The government has stressed that the ‘secret ballot’ is not a constitutional provision and just a statutory provision under Section 122 (6) of the Elections Act 2017 which can be amended by an act of parliament or through an ordinance under Article 89 of the Constitution.

A five-member larger bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed and comprising Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Yahyah Afridi and Justice Ijazul Ahsan is hearing the reference. 

The Centre’s idea of an open-ballot, through a show of hands, has been endorsed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Balochistan while Sindh has opposed the move by stating it is a violation of the Constitution.

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