Senate chairman throws his weight behind open ballot move

ISLAMABAD: Senate Chair­man Sadiq Sanjrani on Friday put his weight behind the demand for transparency in the upcoming Senate elections through open ballot.

In a written synopsis submitted before a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court, the Senate chairman said that openness and transparency in the Senate elections was in the larger national interest. “The Senate does believe that interpretation of constitutional terms or provisions which promotes public welfare, democracy and fairness in the election process is the demand of all stakeholders,” Mr Sanjrani wrote to the court hearing a  reference.

Headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed, the bench is hearing the reference to answer a question posed by President Arif Alvi if the condition of secret ballot under Article 226 of the Constitution applies to the Senate elections or not.

Written synopsis filed before SC bench hearing presidential reference

Earlier, the National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, too, pleaded before the apex court that parliamentary democracy would be strengthened through open or traceable vote rather than secret ballot in the upcoming Senate elections..

The fresh synopsis furnished through Barrister Mohammad Ali Khan Saif stated that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was constitutionally charged with the responsibility of holding elections honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with law — a task could not possibly be performed unless and until constitutional and legal framework for elections was comprehensible, logical and consistent with the best international standards especially with regard to elections of the upper house, the Senate chairman added.

The synopsis argued that during the Senate elections held in March 2015, the issue of rigging and floor-crossing came to limelight leading to the debate regarding mode of elections of senators.

The House Business Advisory Committee (HBAC) of the Senate later took up the matter and after discussing all aspects it was decided that the matter be brought before the upper house for discussion and recommendations.

As per HBAC decision, the mode of elections of Senate members was discussed in the House on Aug 7, 2015. The members debated the issue and expressed views above party lines, it said, adding the Senate after extensive debate felt the need to constitute a committee of the whole on the matter.

Accordingly a motion was moved by the Leader of the House on Aug 10, 2015 and the committee of the whole was constituted to consider mode of elections of the senators, pros and cons of the single transferable voting system, poll reforms and other ancillary matters, the synopsis recalled.

The committee recommended a mechanism of printing name of voter on the ballot paper and giving authority to the party head to seek details after the elections, it said, adding it was the consensus among all stakeholders including the parliamentarians, political parties, intelligentsia, journalists and civil society that free and fair elections to elect members of the Senate would promote transparency and accountability in the electoral process, acknowledge respect for will of the voters, strengthen political parties and their discipline which is essential for the parliamentary democracy.

In any state, the authority of the government could only derive from the will of the people as expressed in genuine, free and fair elections, but the nature of the elections direct or indirect . the right to vote, the synopsis said, adding that in direct elections secret voting was the fundamental principle whereas if the elections were indirect then electorates were bound to follow party lines.

The Senate chairman said elected representatives were answerable both to voters and party and they were bound to follow the party line while voting, arguing that the party that had awarded them ticket to contest the elections had some legitimate expectations about which an electorate was supposed to know and if a member had the courage and stand up to say to whom he or she wanted to give vote and then to face the consequences. Meaning thereby, party lines or party directions vis-à-vis indirect elections were not inconsistent with the Constitution or any other law of the land on the subject, he added.


Oil price hike impact passed to masses to avert loan burden: PM

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said the government was compelled to pass on the impact of oil prices to consumers to avert additional debt burden on the country.

Speaking to a private television channel during his visit to North Waziristan on Wednesday, which was aired on Friday night, Prime Minister Khan said the country could not afford more loans to keep petroleum prices at the minimum benchmark.

He said devaluation of rupee had impacted prices of petroleum products, pulses, ghee and other imported items, which gave rise to inflation.

“The value of dollar surged from Rs107 to Rs160 during the current government’s term that had also pushed the prices up,” he added.

The prime minister pointed out the exorbitant contracts signed by the previous government with power producing companies.

“The incumbent government could not take such measures as it would further burden the country with debt,” he said.

To a question, Mr Khan said after merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, people of the tribal districts would see a positive change vis-à-vis development of their area under the provincial government’s mega development package.

Asked about the UK-based assets recovery firm, Broadsheet, the prime minister said it had nothing to do with the present government as Gen Pervez Musharraf had signed the contract and backtracked unilaterally by giving NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) to Nawaz Sharif.

“The government has formed a ministerial committee, also comprising judges and lawyers, to probe the case and suggest a way forward to retrieve public money stacked abroad. The government had to pay Broadsheet or face a daily markup of 5,000 pounds,” he said.

Prime Minister Khan also called for an open hearing of the foreign funding case against the ruling Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI).

He said open hearing of the case, be it by the Supreme Court or the Election Commission of Pakistan, should be held.

“PTI’s whole funding was legal with complete record of donors, contrary to the opposition parties, which were unable to name their financiers,” he said.

“Would I have called for an open hearing if I was frightened,” he questioned, adding that the allegations of Israeli or Indian funding by an anti-PTI individual were ill-intentioned and mala fide.

Mr Khan said in the past, the opposition had its own handpicked chief election commissioner.

“Now as the incumbent government had appointed the new Election Commission chief with the consultation of the opposition, people should now know whether Israel or India funded PTI or not,” he added.

Ravi Urban project

PM Khan said the Ravi Urban Development Project was significant for economic and social uplift of Lahore and would generate jobs.

“The completion of the project will not only increase economic activity, but also create employment opportunities through quality construction on unused land,” he said.

He was speaking in a meeting on Friday which discussed progress on projects, including Ravi Urban Development, Central Business District, Walton Airport relocation and provision of affordable housing to the people of adjoining small towns.

The meeting was attended by Special Assistant Dr Shahbaz Gill, Naya Pakistan Housing Authority Chairman retired Lt Gen Anwar Ali Haider and senior officials.

Provincial Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht, Adviser to Punjab Chief Minister Dr Salman Shah, Special Assistant to CM Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan and Ravi Urban Development Authority Chairman Rashid Aziz participated through video-link.

The meeting was informed that negotiations with consultants and design issues in the Ravi City project had entered their final stage. It was also updated on the waste water plant and steps being taken to organise an investors’ conference in the near future.

The participants were briefed about the progress on land acquisition under the project.

Regarding the Central Business District project and the relocation of Walton Airport, the meeting was informed that commercial, retail and residential zoning of the project was in line with international standards.

The proposed projects under which affordable houses for the low income group would be constructed in the vicinity of small towns of Punjab were also discussed.

PM Khan directed the relevant authorities to set timelines and initiate the project at the earliest in view of its usefulness for the poor and low income groups.

The low-cost three-to-five marla housing project will initially cover 25 to 27 districts of the province and will gradually be expanded to 87 other areas.

The Punjab government will arrange land and capital in the initial phase and provide subsidy under mortgage financing in the next phase.

Published in Dawn.

Visit of Friends|| Sarri || Haripur.

A gathering of Taxila’s political, social, and legal community in the village of Sarri on the outskirts of Haripur, entertaining guests with indigenous food.

Dassi chicken, mustard greens, lassi, butter, Afghani spinach, vegetable rice as well as seasonal Orange, red blood, and shakkri were served to the guests.

Member Punjab Assembly and Parliamentary Secretary. Malik TaimoorMasood Akbar, Leading Lawyer and Former President Bar Malik Sajjad Hussain Advocate, Syed Shahzada Imran Haider Naqvi, Advocate Mir Nasir Bilal, Member Cantt Board Malik Ehtesham Iqbal, Director Punjab Colleges Bawa Usman Gul, Leading Lawyer Asif Mukhtiar Butt, Syed Waqas Ali Naqvi Advocate, Bilal Ashraf Khan, Wasim Raza, Naveed Ashraf Khan, Malik Rafat Khan participated. On this occasion, political, social, and regional issues were discussed.

In the end, The historic period of the presidency of renowned lawyer Malik Sajjad Hussain Advocate, the wedding of Syed Waqas Ali Naqvi was celebrated.

Click on the video to watch the detailed video.