Islamabad, February 04, 2021: Addressing the government’s attempts to pave the way for open balloting in Senate, the Parliamentary Leader of the PPP in the Senate, Senator Sherry Rehman said, “Transparency in elections is of vital importance to us, there are no two ways about. But respecting the ballot and changing the secrecy enshrined in the constitution are two different matters. They need to be done with clarity, consensus and open-ness, not just before an election because government is not confident of its members. Any sudden and unilateral change in the system would further complicate the electoral system of single transferable votes, so why take it to court on the one hand and on the other bring a bill without the requisite numbers for a constitutional amendment . Everyone wants to put an end to horse-trading, as it’s of no use to anyone, but why bring bills about the Senate without taking the Senate’s own views”.
“Parliamentary procedures and the politics of building consensus should be followed to do things. After all, we did that in our time, and passed so much legislation without a hiccup. But that has been wilfully jettisoned in favour of cat-calls and personal provocation. Parliament is being brought into an era of darkness. Instead of bulldozing bills; consensus and partnership should be built. On one hand the bill has been taken to the court for interpretation and on the other you are talking about making amendments. If you respected the Parliament, you should have brought it here for discussion. Any constitutional amendment must be taken up for thorough scrutiny by bringing everyone on board. We all would have contributed in the process and that would have given a unified message to the country. The government did not take Senate into confidence. Why is there so much unilateralism and confusion?” She asked.
Rehman said, “If this government, especially its Prime Minister and Ministers were capable of taking everyone in confidence, then we would have done many things. It is an established fact that 70% of the Charter of Democracy’s decisions including the 18th Amendment were implemented during PPP’s tenure”.
“All parties took strict action against horse-trading. We are not answerable to you; we are answerable to our own parties. We do not want the election to be manipulated but want it to be fair and transparent. There is a proper mechanism which needs to be followed and it cannot be ignored. Just because the government has lost control over its MPs, we cannot make revisions to the Constitution and electoral reforms to suit one election,” she added.
Rehman said, “The sanctity of the parliament is not being respected. Everything is being turned into a game of revenge politics which is not beneficial for anyone. NA has been destroyed, now they are after Senate. Why is this government unable to bring constitutional amendments like us? This is because there’s no respect for democracy and the constitution”.
Vice President PPP Senator Sherry Rehman concluded by saying, “Governments who are sincere to their people and follow the principles of democracy always progress. The word unity was used 11 times in President Joe Biden’s inaugural address. Wanting to have a constructive dialogue with the government does not mean that are asking for an NRO. We wanted to bring constructive legislation, but there is no appetite or interest from government. In our world view we are all answerable to the parliament and our people”.