Senate asks ECP to take steps for timely elections

House passes PEMRA Bill, 2023 with three fresh amendments

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.

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