Shibli seeks opposition parties’ support for open ballot in upcoming Senate polls

ISLAMABAD:Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz Saturday sought support of the opposition parties for holding the upcoming Senate polls through an open ballot aimed at ensuring transparency and ending use of money in the election process.

Speaking in the Senate on a motion moved by the opposition parties to discuss Presidential Ordinance promulgated to make amendments to the Election Act 2017 and hold the upcoming Senate polls, he said the rule of law could not be ensured without eliminating use of money, corruption and horse-trading in the voting process.

He said it was the responsibility of all to end the culture of money-politics and corruption through effective legislation.

The minister said that PPP and PML-N had signed the Charter of Democracy and promised the nation regarding holding transparent elections in the country.

He said the CoD was an agreement to divide power between the two political parties.

He said the opposition should have supported this law rather than giving arguments in the court.

Shibli Faraz said the both the parties remained in power for ten years but failed to hold transparent elections in the country, adding the menace of corruption had badly damaged the country.

The minister said the motion moved by the opposition about presentational ordinance had two points of view including law and morality.

Unfortunately, he said, the lawmakers had been discussing the legislative side but they were not touching the morality side of the subject.

He said it was unfortunate that the opposition had not discussed use of money and horse-trading in the Senate elections, which had been happening in the past.

The minister said it was always the Parliament that strengthened the democracy but when questions arose on the elections of the Upper House of the Parliament, then “We have to think how we can restore the respect of this important forum, to end the use of money and controversy in the Senate elections.”

He said, it was the stance of Prime Minister Imran Khan that the corruption had badly affected the country.

He said that corruption-free countries were moving on the road of development, progress and prosperity while the democratic countries having corruption were far behind in the development process.

Shibli Faraz said that Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Imran Khan had always stated that without eliminating corruption, the country could not move on the road of development.

“It is unfortunate that the culture of corruption is not being considered as corruption, today not a single member has discussed the use of money and horse-trading in the Senate election and how can these practices be ended,” he added.

He regretted that the past governments had destroyed national institutions by not following the culture of merit.

He said that the voice of the parliament should be that “We want to end corruption from the country by bringing changes in the law and introducing new legislation.”

He said “We have to make a decision to end use of money, following merit besides ensuring transparency and ability.” He asked opposition parties to play their role to end corruption in the country.

Unfortunately, the minister said the parliament had been used to weaken the democracy, adding the people who come in the parliament using money always gave priority to protect their interests.

He said it was a golden chance for the opposition to cooperate with the government for a bright future of the country’s next generations.

He also asked opposition parties to extend support to the government for ending the politics of violence, use of money and blackmailing.

He said it was unfortunate that an incident had taken place in Sialkot during the bye-polls where two people lost their lives.

Winding-up the debate on the opposition parties’ motion, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said the PTI government wanted to purge the Parliament of black sheep by closing the door of horse-trading through necessary amendments in the Election Act.

He said Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had signed a CoD in which they also agreed to bring transparency in the Senate elections and end the culture of floor-crossing and corruption from the parliamentary democracy.

“I put the question before parliamentarians of the PPP that why their party is unable to fulfill the last wish of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto of [to stop floor-crossing and horse-trading,” he said.

He clarified that the government was not trying to amend the Constitution of Pakistan through any ordinance, adding “nobody is doing that.”

He said the PTI government wanted to stop sale and purchase of votes in the Senate elections, but it was regrettable that opposition parties were not cooperating in that regard.