Prime minister’s remarks over appointment of Chairman Senate

Prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi

A few days ago, PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi strongly criticized the ‘Honorable’ Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani. Sanjrani was blamed for vote-buying and horse-trading. Premier lambasted him saying “Sanjrani has no respect as he bought votes”.

Prime minister’s remarks are condemnable. It is deplorable that he did not deign to think of the high-esteem and dignity of the designation of the Chairman Senate. Doesn’t it look weird that a country’s prime minister is criticizing Chairman Senate, the same man who will become country’s ‘acting president’ during the absence of Mamnoon Hussain? It is quite strange that sitting prime minister lambasted the office of key position holder in the country’s parliament that represents all the provinces to promote harmony? No such remarks were expected from the PM.

It was visible from his outrage it was his political boss who had directed PM to criticize Sanjrani. Because it became a death-blow to some of the PML-N’s future plans. Nawaz Sharif endorsed Abbasi’s stance on horse-trading charges after this which is shameful. Instead of giving respect to the designation of Sanjrani and himself, Abbasi made a mockery of the office of Chairman Senate.

There is no doubt that horse trading in the elections is a highly condemnable practice. It is a stigma in a true parliamentary system and must be curbed as soon as possible. Such immoral and illegal practices find no place in a democratic society as these kill the spirit of a democracy. Sadly, our parliamentary history is full of such outlawed examples.

Take the Asghar Khan Case as an example. This case is unjustifiable and indefensible. ISI backed Islami Jamhuri Ittehad against PPP in 1990’s general elections and supported it financially. Nawaz Sharif had received 3.5 million rupees from ISI as ‘political support fund’. Where were the parliamentary norms in those times? Would honorable PM dare to explain what his political bosses did in this case? I strongly believe Nawaz Sharif’s role, in this case, cannot be justified in the light of the law.

Prime minister must have thought a hundred times before passing such remarks on this matter. The reason is the very appointment of his own. Prime minister should have given any thoughts to the general-elections practice in the country. There is a limit to expenditures for candidates contesting the elections. But, almost all the candidates usually expend more than the limit prescribed by ECP. Take NA-122 by-election as an example. It is on the record that PMLN and PTI’s candidates spent money extravagantly to ensure their win. Abbasi and no other politician will speak of such extravagance, perhaps finding it below their dignity.

If prime minister thinks Senate elections were rigged, has he or his government took any serious steps to curb this menace in the next elections? Has the party’s disciplinary committee taken any action against those who betrayed the party in the elections and voted for opposing party’s candidate? Sadly, no action has been taken against the culprits who made a mockery of democracy. If a sitting prime minister is calling Sanjrani on the carpet for his alleged appointment, just to please his chiefs, what respect are you giving to the parliament? It was required from the prime minister to respect the parliament and his office. He, unfortunately, could not do this.

It is not the right time to discuss the way elections were contested. It is time to move on. Rather than criticizing each other, all political parties should develop a consensus on this issue. To curb this menace from the parliamentary system, new laws are the need of the hour. Formulation of such laws is possible through the 22nd constitutional amendment.

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