ISLAMABAD - On the last day of the coalition government’s term, the Senate on Wednesday passed a resolution urging the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to take measures for holding general elections across the country within the stipulated time given under the Constitution.
The resolution that was brought in the house through a supplementary agenda and without sharing with the members of the house also urged all state institutions to play their constitutional role and assist the Election Commission, in every possible manner, to ensure that elections are held within the time as given under Article 224 of the Constitution.
“The house demands from the ECP to take all necessary steps to ensure the conduct of elections within the stipulated time period given under Article 224,” reads the resolution moved by JUI-F Senator Mushtaq Ahmed. The resolution came at a time when the
government is set to dissolve the National Assembly three days ahead of its mandated period in a move to hold the elections within 90 days of constitutional limit instead of 60 days. At least two federal ministers have recently hinted that the election can be delayed beyond the constitutional limit as delimitation of constituencies is required under the new census. The resolution said that the Supreme Court had ruled that holding elections under Article 224 of the Constitution was not the privilege of the ECP but its constitutional responsibility. It stated that a caretaker government is only appointed for an interim period under the Elections Act to hold polls and can take decisions pertaining to day-to-day affairs only and have no right to take policy decisions. After the passage of the resolution, former chairman Senate and PPP Senator Raza Rabbani supported it but lodged a protest by saying that its draft was not shared with the members, except Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar. “It is a contagious thing that the government has also started introducing bills in the house while hiding them from the members,” he remarked. PPP Senator Taj Haider opposed the resolution saying that any one should avoid moving such resolutions, which created doubts and apprehensions about the ECP – a constitutional body – on its ability to hold elections. The house also passed the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority [PEMRA] (Amendment) Bill, 2023 with three amendments after the opposition fiercely opposed it. After Senator Fawzia Arshad, the convener of the house information committee, laid a report of the committee on the bill; Minister for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb requested Chairman Senate Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani that the bill should be considered for passage. On this, PTI lawmakers objected that the minister had already withdrawn the bill from the committee and how this could be brought for passage at the moment. “The minister had withdrawn the bill despite repeated requests of the committee members that it should be debated in the meeting,” she said. PPP Senator Raza Rabbani also opposed the government move to bring the bill for passage after it had been withdrawn from the committee. “Does the rules of business of the house allow to set this precedent,” he said, adding that there were a plethora of bills lying before him and no one knew about these. JI Senator Mushtaq Ahmed opposed the draft law by saying that it would scuttle the dissenting voices and affect the liberties of the media. The information minister said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif after meeting with a delegation of journalists had directed that the bill should again be moved in the house to make it a law.