Probing horse-trading allegations

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Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) has Justice (retd) Sardar Raza Khan on Wednesday said that it is unfortunate that those who sell their vote and those who buy it are both members of Parliament. The CEC said this during the hearing of suo-moto notice of reports of horse-trading in Senate elections, which were held in the first week of March. On March 3, 52 senators were elected to the Upper House of Parliament, out of 52 PML-N the PML-N got 15 Senate seats from Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Islamabad, the PPP won 12 seats from Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa respectively. Tehreek-e-Insaf won six seats – five from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and one from Punjab. Following the elections the mainstream political parties resorted to traditional blame game and started accusing each other for selling and buoying of votes. Taking notice of the statements of different political leaders and parliamentarians and media reports about horse trading in the Senate Elections the ECP formally sent notices to the parliamentarians and party leaders directing them to appear before the commission on 14th of this Month so that a legal action against all those responsible for horse trading could be initiated.

According to reports the ECP that started hearing on Wednesday had summoned eight parliamentarians to assist it in this particular case. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leader Farooq Sattar were represented by their counsels whereas State Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb appeared in person. During the hearing the CEC Justice (retd) Sardar Raza Khan observed that the buying and selling of votes is a crime, adding that he wants political parties to assist the ECP in this regard.

Being constitutionally established autonomous body responsible for holding free and fair elections in the country the ECP should exercise its authority and conduct a thorough investigation into the matter to bring an end to this immoral business of rampant horse-trading that has unfortunately opened floodgates of corruption in the name of politics.

It is equally important that all the political forces should assist the election commission in this regard and expose those elements who have turned politics into business. Horse-trading is a menace that not only undermines the spirit of democracy but it is also a detriment to the principle of fair play that plays pivotal role in generating legitimate political authority in democratic societies. As per the constitution the Election Commission is duty bound to organize and conduct the election and to make such arrangements as are necessary to ensure that the election is conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with law, and that corrupt practices are guarded against. One hopes that the commission while discharging its constitutional duties will play its much needed role to bring an end to this menace by holding accountable all those found guilty.

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