Shibli Faraz terms Apex Court’s decision on Senate election historic

Shah Faisal

PESHAWAR: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Shibli Faraz here on Monday termed the apex court’s opinion regarding secret balloting in Senate elections ‘historic’ and put the onus of ensuring transparency on the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), asking it to make use of technology.

Speaking at a news conference here, the Minister said the apex court has directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to use the latest technology and take the necessary steps to ensure transparency in the poll.

“From the opinion of the Supreme Court, it seems that Senate elections will be held under secret balloting in light of the Article 226 of the Constitution,” the minister said. However, he added that the court has also ruled that secrecy of ballot is not permanent.

He said people had seen in the past how political loyalties were traded during the Senate election. The government, he said, had taken all possible measures to prevent sale and purchase of votes during the upcoming senate election.

Flanked by Special Assistant to Chief Minister (SACM) on Information, Kamran Bangash and PID Director Ashfaq Ahmad here, the information minister observed “The honourable judges have stressed the use of technology to make the elections transparent,” he added.

Shibli Faraz said the Senate was a highly respectable institution and it was necessary for upholding its sanctity to elect honest, upright and competent candidates who could serve masses irrespective of their personal interests.

There was a conflict between two ideologies, he said. The opposition’s ideology was to run the country through an obsolete corrupt system based on personal politics and gains.

Whereas, the PTI he said, strongly believed in strengthening of the national institutions, rule of law and merit.

He said political hypocrisy was the hallmark of opposition’s politics and they had chosen a candidate for Senate election from Islamabad who in past had tried to protect its leader facing corruption charges.

He (Yousaf Raza Gilani) did not write a letter to Swiss authorities despite the Supreme Court’s instructions thus the country had to suffer millions of dollars’ loss, the minister added.

The minister asked the ECP to take requisite steps for ensuring transparency in the Senate elections in the light of the SC decision. He added that the government’s decision to seek interpretation of the Constitution was a good move.

“We are the flag-bearers of transparency and a corruption-free society, and are fighting a war [for supremacy] of ideology,” he remarked.

On the other hand, opposition parties have always been involved in buying people and their loyalties, he maintained.

“We want the public representatives to be elected on the basis of their credentials, not on the basis of how much money they have,” the minister said.

He added that those elected on the basis of money cannot legislate against their interests.

“Hafeez Sheikh will win because the people will vote for Imran Khan and his ideology,” Shibli added.

Concluding, he said, “we don’t want to pressurise institutions as we want them to make their decisions independently.”

Earlier today, announcing the much-anticipated decision on the Senate polls presidential reference, the SC announced that Senate elections should be held through secret ballot under Article 226 of the Constitution.

However, in its opinion, the top court stated that the ECP was empowered to take all measures to curb corrupt practices under Article 218(3). The decision was taken with a 4-1 majority. “Secrecy is not absolute,” the decision added.

Shibli Faraz said Prime Minister Imran Khan had awarded party tickets to credible, honest and competent candidates and PTI’s parliamentarians would vote them to acknowledge his (Imran Khan’s) 22-year struggle against corruption, rule of law and supremacy of democracy.

To a question about Maryam Nawaz’s recent statement about the long march, the Minister said all institutions were independent and no one was allowed to pressurize them.

The minister said opposition’s double standards had exposed them before the masses and that is why people have shown no interest in PDM’s public rallies.

Kamran Bangash, Special Assistant to the Chief Minister for Information and Public Relations alleged that ANP and PPP were trying to purchase votes and proofs would be made public after consultation with the party leadership.

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The Frontier Post

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