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Important milestone

Successful conduct of senate elections, which is by and large, seen as a great success of the democratic forces in the country, has on one hand brought an end to the month’s long uncertainty while on the other the holding of the Senate elections in time had set a stage for the upcoming general elections likely to be held in mid-July this year. Despite many challenges political forces demonstrated a great deal of maturity and magnanimity bearing in mind the fact that the continuity of democratic process was the only solution to the problems faced by the country. For the ruling party-Pakistan Muslim League (N), the elections were a test case of its unity and virility. Having passed this litmus test the party and particularly its members have shown a great deal of political maturity that ultimately helped it to gain control over the upper house by bagging maximum seats. Although there have been rumours of internal rift and division within the rank and file of the party but its victory in the senate elections proved that elder Sharif’s grip over the party remains as strong as it was in the past.

Out of 52 seats the PML-N got lions share, the Pakistan Peoples Party exceeded expectations particularly in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and Sindh by securing a total of 12 seats, whereas Pakistan Tehreek Insaf led by Imran Khan that gained six seats. According to unofficial results PML-N won 15 Senate seats from Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Islamabad. PPP won 12 seats from Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa respectively. Tehreek-e-Insaf won six seats – five from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and one from Punjab. The JUI-F has managed one seat each in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. Jamaat-e-Islami managed to elect one Senator from Khyber Pakhtunhwa. However, for Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan it was a great upset as the party has only got one seat in Sindh. Pakistan Muslim League-Function won one Seat seat from Sindh. In FATA, four independent candidates emerged as victorious, National Party got two candidates elected in the Senate from Balochistan Assembly. Pakhtukhwa Milli Awami Party of Mahmood Khan Achakzai bagged two Senate seats from Balochistan Assembly. Six seats were won by independent candidates in Balochistan Assembly.

As the poll results started to trickle in PTI and PPP leadership resorted to blame game accusing each other of resorting to horse-trading in the Senate elections. “The Senate elections yet again witnessed shameful horse-trading where MPAs bought and sold their votes as the country witnessed this sale of their ‘elected’ people to highest bidder. This shows moral decline of our political class. In which Western democracy does such a sale happen?” wrote Imran Khan on his official page on Twitter.

Responding to Khan’s allegations against his party, the PPP’s Farhatullah Babar accused PTI’s Chaudhry Sarwar of using unethical means to win the seat in Punjab. “We negotiated with the parties (in KP) and secured their support. If we got two Senate seats with only seven MPAs, how did PTI win one seat in Punjab, when it could not?” Babar asked.

By the way, in third world democracies like ours, blaming each other back and forth for what the other person or party had or hadn’t done, is not something new, rather it is an age-old phenomena. The Parliamentary history of our country is awash with such stories where contesting parties, at the end of the day, had expressed their strong reservations over the electoral system besides blaming each other for horse-trading, selling and buying of votes. And, interestingly, this phenomenon still goes on unabated. No doubt there are and could be a number of loopholes/shortcomings in the country’s electoral system as the PTI chief had referred to but these flaws could be removed though proper legislation. Now that an important milestone has been achieved it is time that the democratic forces should move forward with a positive state of mind and pool their efforts in making the electoral system more transparent. As Parliament remains to be the only viable forum to legislate for viable electoral reforms.

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