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Speaker supports open ballots in Senate polls

By Ajmal Khan Yousafzai

ISLAMABAD: Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser on Wednesday supported the suggestion for an open ballot during the upcoming Senate polls in his reply submitted in a presidential reference before the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
In his letter, the speaker said that the assembly would support any decision taken by the apex court. “Constitution-making and any amendment in it is the responsibility of the Parliament while the apex court has the right to define it,” Asad Qaiser said in his written reply while further commenting that President Arif Alvi has also sought the supreme court’s help in defining article 226 of the constitution.
The speaker while backing up his arguments in favour of open ballot said that they want transparent Senate polls and it is only possible after the process is held through the open ballot process. “Transparent Senate elections will bring an end to horse-trading,” he said while expressing regret that in past allegations of votes being sold out in return for hefty amounts have been reported frequently during the past polls.
On January 16, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) opposed the presidential reference seeking opinion of the Supreme Court about holding Senate elections with an open ballot.
In its reply submitted with the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the ECP has rejected the possibility of holding Senate polls through the open ballot and said that the Senate elections would be held as per the constitution of 1973.
Senate polls are defined in article 59, 219 and 224 of the constitution, the ECP reply read. Furthermore as per article 226 all elections under the Constitution, other than those of the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister, shall be by secret ballot.
“Pakistan’s Constitution of 1973 does not allow open ballot elections for Senate.”

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