Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar on Tuesday said that the PTI government's decision to issue an ordinance regarding the Senate elections was within the limits of the Constitution, adding that the government will take all possible measures to ensure transparency in the polls.
He was addressing a press conference in Islamabad alongside Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz about decisions taken by the federal cabinet under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday.
Regarding the stance of the Opposition towards the introduction of open-ballot voting in the Senate, he said that those who have been buying and selling votes in the past are the ones objecting to the move.
"It is no secret that buying and selling of votes have been a tradition in Senate elections," he said, adding that the PTI came to power with the aim to eradicate corrupt practices from the country, such as the tradition of horse-trading in Senate elections.
"For the purpose, the government has tabled a Constitutional amendment in the National Assembly to hold Senate elections through an open-ballot voting system," he said.
The minister added that the government has filed a presidential reference to the Supreme Court regarding holding the Senate elections through an open-ballot voting system, so it will respect the apex court's decision in this regard.
Taking over the presser, Faraz said the federal cabinet has approved the extension of the Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement for three months with effect from Thursday, according to Radio Pakistan.
The minister said that the cabinet has also expressed displeasure on the unscheduled load shedding, and has asked the authorities concerned to end the problem on an urgent basis, the publication reported.
The cabinet was informed that the government's Roshan Digital Account initiative has been yielding positive results and around $500 million have been received under this project so far, the minister said.
Talking about steps taken to control inflation in the country, Faraz said that market committees have been abolished, and the district administration has been asked to control the prices of the essential commodities to provide maximum relief to the masses.
The meeting was informed that effective measures have been taken to curb petrol's smuggling, which helped in saving Rs120 billion of taxpayers' money.
Elections (Amendment) Ordinance 2021
President Arif Alvi on Saturday signed the Elections (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 to pave the way for Senate elections to be held via an "open and identifiable ballot".
According to the Ordinance, changes have been brought to Sections 81, 122 and 185 of the Elections Act, 2017.
The Ordinance will come into effect "at once" and "extend to the whole of Pakistan," the president said.
"Provided that in case the Supreme Court of Pakistan gives an opinion in Reference No. 1 of 2021 filed under Article 186 of the Constitution, that election for the members of the Senate do not fall within the purview of Article 226 of the Constitution, the poll for elections for members of the Senate to be held in March 2021 and thereafter shall be conducted by the Commission through an open and identifiable ballot," reads the Ordinance.
According to Section 226 of the Constitution: "All elections under the Constitution, other than those of the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister, shall be by secret ballot".
The Ordinance further states that after the Senate polls, if the head of a political party wishes to see the ballot cast by any member of his party, the Election Commission of Pakistan shall show them the same.