Bilawal Bhutto demands Pak establishment to stay away from Senate polls

Published: February 9,2021 09:24 AM

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February 9, 2021: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Monday demanded the country's establishment to 'stay away' from the upcoming Senate elections.

February 9, 2021: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Monday demanded the country's establishment to 'stay away' from the upcoming Senate elections while warning that the entire country would be affected if the Upper House polls were made controversial.

The PPP wanted that not only should the establishment not take part in Senate elections but it should have no political role, he said, responding to a question during a press conference, reported Dawn. He also opined that if the establishment has a political office, it should be closed.

"It does not have an organic majority in the National Assembly. Not only [the PTI's] allies but its aggrieved members of the provincial and national assemblies are undermined to [install] this puppet government on us," Bilawal mentioned, adding that he believed that the ruling PTI was still able to function "only because it has the establishment's support".

"The establishment's role in politics is a part of our history and our reality and we have to continue fighting against it until we succeed," he said.

The PPP chairman also heavily criticised the government's promulgation of an ordinance for holding the Senate polls through an open ballot, terming it an attack on the rights of the citizens to vote through a secret ballot.

Bilawal claimed that the government wanted to make the Senate "controversial in the same way that it made elections for the National Assembly controversial", reported Dawn.

"They do not want transparent, uncontroversial elections. If they really wanted it, there was a lot of time. They have been in power for three years. There was a lot of time for comprehensive electoral reforms," he remarked.

The opposition leader also announced that his party would challenge the presidential ordinance, calling it a huge attack on Pakistan's parliament, democracy and elections.

"If this succeeds, you might as well lock the provincial and national assemblies of Pakistan. What will be their use? What will be the use of members' votes? We have the right to do our work. If legislation has to be done through the president's office or courts, then you should shut down provincial and national assemblies. They have no role in the democracy, and in the running of this state," he added.

Bilawal said that such an 'irresponsible' move will also set a dangerous precedent and that president could issue an ordinance before every election on the basis that the National Assembly had been dissolved, according to Dawn.

"[This] will take away our right to speak in the assembly, you will not allow us to debate on important issues. If you steal our right to vote in this way, then I assure you that you will see a serious reaction from all parties," he warned.

This comes days after President Arif Alvi had signed the Elections (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 to pave the way for Senate elections to be held via an "open and identifiable ballot".

The Ordinance states that if Supreme Court finds Senate elections do not fall under Article 226 of the Constitution, an "open and identifiable ballot" will be held, Geo News reported.

Leaders of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) - the 11-party opposition alliance have vehemently opposed the move to hold elections via a show of hands.

The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) had earlier today slammed Prime Minister Imran Khan-led government's decision to hold Senate elections via an "open and identifiable ballot", and said that it was based on "malicious intent".