ISLAMABAD:\nThe federal government introduced a constitutional amendment bill in the National Assembly on Wednesday to hold the Senate elections through show of hands in order to bring greater transparency to the electoral exercise for the upper house of parliament.\n\nThe 26th constitutional amendment bill was tabled by Federal Law Minister Farogh Naseem during a session marred by protest of the opposition with Speaker Asad Qaiser in the seat.\n\nThe bill includes amendments to allow Senate elections to be held by open ballot and to allow dual nationals to contest elections. Addressing the house, Naseem said that the government wanted to hold the elections in the upper house via open ballot method.\n\n"Read the Constitution. Is it unconstitutional to amend the Constitution?" responded the law minister as the members of the opposition kept shouting that they will not allow the government to do halala.\n\nThe 25-point agenda of the session also included the Pakistan Peoples Party's (PPP) adjournment motion on the hike in electricity prices and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz's (PML-N) notice on the lower production of the cotton crop this year.\n\nIn the past, the Senate elections have often attracted accusations of horse-trading and lack of transparency continues to cast a dark shadow over the upper house. In the recent past, the election for the Senate chairman was marred by controversy when a number of voters had switched across party lines.\n\nLast month, the government moved an 11-page reference under Article 186 of the Constitution to the Supreme Court, seeking the apex court\u2019s advice on whether the condition of the secret ballot under Article 226 of the Constitution applied to the Senate elections.\n\nThe reference was filed soon after a decision of the federal cabinet to hold open ballot for election of the upper house of parliament on seats which will fall vacant in March this year. The matter is pending with a larger bench of the apex court.\n\nWhat is show of hands method?\n\nThe show of hands is an alternative to the secret ballot voting, which is practiced in several countries.\n\nIn this method, the voters raise their hands to be counted. In Pakistan, the method is in practice during the elections to vote in a prime minister and chief ministers.\n\nPML-N's Ahsan Iqbal accuses NA Speaker of bias\n\nDuring the session, PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal accused Speaker Asad Qaiser of bias against the opposition members, saying that often their microphones are turned off in order to suppress their voice.\n\nHe urged other opposition members to raise their hands if they were also unsatisfied with the performance of NA speaker.\n\nIn his defence, the speaker said that he conducts the proceedings of the House in accordance with the rules. "Please come to my office, I will address your reservations," he told Ahsan. However, the PML-N leader remained unconvinced.\n\n"In the past, the opposition members were allowed to hold speeches for more than two hours. If we're not allowed to address the house then there will be confrontation," he added.\n\nOn holding Senate election through show of hands, Ahsan Iqbal said that the entire "drama" was being staged to install "friends of Imran Khan" in Senate.\n\n"You want to bring in a prime minister's special assistant in Senate. This entire bill was drafted just to bring this 'friend of Imran Khan' in Senate."\n\nLater, the NA speaker adjourned the session which will resume at 11pm tomorrow.\n\nQuota in Senate\n\nThe Senate comprises 104 lawmakers; 23 from each province, eight from erstwhile FATA and four from the federal capital. The 23 seats apportioned to a province comprise 14 general seats, four reserved seats each for women, and technocrats\/Ulema, and one for minority.\n\nLikewise, four seats of Islamabad comprise two general seats, one reserved for technocrats\/Ulema and one for women. The upcoming Senate will comprise 98 members, as there will be no elections on the four vacant seats from FATA after its merger with KP.\n\nSenators are elected for a term of six years, but not at the same time, as 52 senators (one-half) are elected one time and the other half, three years later. In 2021, 52 senators are retiring, but the election will be held on 48 seats because the four seats of FATA will not be included now.\n\nEach provincial assembly will elect seven senators on the general seats, two each on technocrat and women seats, forming a total of 11 seats.