Senate election

March 3, 2018

The Senate of Pakistan is set to hold election on as 52 of its 104 senators complete their six-year terms on March 11. Polling will be held today in the four provincial assemblies and the national assembly on. Despite suffering some political setbacks in recent months, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is all set to become the single largest party in the Senate after 18 years.
Prominent among those who are retiring include Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Leader of the Opposition Aitzaz Ahsan, Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Farhatullah Babar, Azam Swati, Kamran Michael, Shahi Syed, Kamil Ali Agha, Talha Mehmood, Tahir Hussain Mashhadi, Nasreen Jalil and Ilyas Bilour.
Eighteen of the 52 senators belong to the Pakistan People Party Parliamen­tarians (PPP-P), nine to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), five are from the Awami National Party (ANP), four each belong to Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), three to Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), two to Balochistan National Party-A (BNP-A), and one each to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F). Five independents are also set to complete their tenure.
However what is unfortunate is that elections of the upper house of Parliament have already been marred by claims of horse trading and ‘buying of seats’. What is serious here is that the claims have come from those in position of power and stature. Recently, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi callied for “jihad” against political horse-trading and promised to name and shame those politicians who were looking to become senators by using their wealth. The Prime Minister’s statement clearly highlights how ‘money’ plays a major role in Senate election. The Prime Minister further said that a party without any representation in the Balochistan Assembly was trying to win Senate seats from there Similarly, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan has claimed that someone had offered him Rs400 million for ticket for a seat in the Senate. Recently, Ameer, Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan, Senator Sirajul Haq, said that if the Election Commission of Pakistan failed to check horse trading in the Senate election, the Chief Justice of Pakistan should take suo mot notice of the mater
Fear of horse trading and senate seats being ‘bought’ coming from the Prime Minister, the leader of one of the major opposition party i.e. the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and other senior leaders clearly show that there is a need to make amendments in law to ensure that the use of money is eliminated from the Senate election. The allegations and fears expressed by senior politicians regarding Senate election have made the process questionable and will result in loss of people’s trust in the system.
Amendments should be made to ensure utmost transparency in Senate Election.