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Pakistan: Amid political chaos, Imran Khan govt pushes for early Senate polls to weaken Opposition

News Agencies | Updated on: 16 December 2020, 11:49 IST

Amid political chaos in Pakistan, the federal government has decided to hold Senate elections in February instead of March 2021. The polls are expected to result in the loss of seats for Opposition Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), which currently controls the Upper House.

The decision was taken on Tuesday during a meeting of the federal Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, reported Dawn.

In a 104-member Senate, elections will be held for 52 seats as many members of the Upper House will be retiring on March 11. The federal government invoked the idea of early elections in order to change the power structure in the Senate.

Currently, the Senate is decisively controlled by the constituent parties of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM). Early elections will result in the loss of seats for PDM.

The PDM had unanimously decided that its lawmakers will handover resignations to their party chiefs by December 31 and Pakistan People's Party (PPP) chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari termed that resignations of opposition lawmakers are an 'atom bomb' for the incumbent government.

The move to resign en masse by PDM will stall the Senate election. The resignations may render the electoral college for Senate elections incomplete which in turn may make the Senate election constitutionally untenable.

This, in turn, will ease a lot of the (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) PTI's current problems such as the passage of legislation considered important by the government but stuck in the Senate.

A source disclosed to Dawn that the proposal for the early Senate election was put forth by the Minister of Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhary. The government also invoked advisory jurisdiction of the Supreme Court on open voting for the polls.

Generally, Senate elections are done through secret balloting, but PM Imran Khan desired to hold the election by open ballot or show of hands.

The information minister said that the government mulled over getting the bill ratified through several means -- either through a constitutional amendment, executive order, or the election commission.

After pondering over the matter, the government decided to move to the apex court regarding the matter, reported Dawn.

Meanwhile, PDM has demanded PM Imran Khan-led government quit by January 31 or face intensified movements by opposition parties such as the long march to Islamabad.


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First published: 16 December 2020, 11:49 IST