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Sunday Feb 07 2021
Web Desk

Issuing ordinance a month before Senate polls an attack on Constitution: Sherry Rehman

Web Desk
PPP leader Senator Sherry Rehman. Photo: File/
  • Sherry Rehman says government's decision to issue an ordinance "overnight" is an "attack on the parliament and Constitution"
  • Raza Rabbani claims Opposition was not consulted, says ordinance is borne out of "malicious intent"
  • PTI's Shahbaz Gill reminds PPP that late Benazir Bhutto was the one to stipulate the idea of open-ballot voting for Senate elections in the Charter of Democracy

KARACHI: PPP Senator Sherry Rehman on Sunday said that the PTI government has issued ordinances regarding the Senate elections "overnight", adding that the move is an "attack on the Constitution and the parliament."

Rehman, along with other PPP leaders, was speaking during a press conference in Karachi during which she said that the government "does not have a two-thirds majority to pass a constitutional amendment."

"Why did the government introduce an amendment only one month before the Senate polls? Sherry Rehman questioned. "Issuing ordinances overnight in this way is an attack on the Constitution as well as the parliament."

She added that it is the job of the parliament to bring about constitutional amendments, adding that the government should have taken the Opposition's viewpoints on board before issuing the ordinance.

'Govt did not hold dialogue with Opposition'

Adding to Rehman's criticism of the government, senior PPP leader and former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani claimed that the government "did not consult any political parties or PPP parliamentarians before drafting the amendment bill of the Senate elections".

"The PTI-led government did not hold any dialogue with the Opposition regarding the amendment," Rabbani said, adding that the ordinance issued by the government in relation to the Senate election is based on "malicious intent."

"The government is making the Senate elections controversial. The law allows us to challenge this ordinance in court," he said. "The cabinet is blind and it seems it cannot read the Constitution."

Read more: PPP's Sherry Rehman deeply concerned over 'deliberate restrictions on women's voting'

Govt responds to PPP's criticism

Responding to the PPP's criticism, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Communication Shahbaz Gill said that for the past two years, the PPP did not contribute to any legislation of national interest. 

"It was Bibi (late Benazir Bhutto) who had stipulated the idea of open-ballot voting for Senate elections in the Charter of Democracy," he said. "Why is bringing an end to the 'horse-trading' tradition causing the PPP so much pain?" 

President ratifies 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".

It has been made subject to a pending opinion by the Supreme Court on a presidential reference in the matter.

"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 elections 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," read 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."

Read more: President Arif Alvi signs ordinance for open balloting in Senate elections