Law to be amended for fair Senate polls (The Nation (Pakistan))

Taking notice of alleged horsetrading prior to the Senate elections to be held in March, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at an important meeting of the federal cabinet on Monday directed that a constitutional amendment must be made to change the upper house elections procedure from secret ballot to show of hands.
The premier also constituted a fourmember legal committee comprising Attorney General of Pakistan Salman Aslam Butt, Federal Minister Anusha Rehman and Special Assistants to the Prime Minister Khawaja Zaheer Ahmad and Barrister Zafarullah Khan.
The committee has been tasked with submitting a report regarding reforms to stop horsetrading in the Senate elections.
According to details released by the PM House, the premier further directed all federal ministers at the meeting to contact all political parties and brief them on Senate elections reforms.
The cabinet decided to introduce constitutional amendment to discourage horsetrading in the Senate elections.
The federal body also granted expost facto approval to agreement on ChinaPakistan Economic Corridor Project.
The cabinet meeting that met with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the chair asked for starting negotiations with Beijing for importing 1,000 megawatts of electricity from China by laying a new transmission line.
Also during the meeting, a minute of silence was observed to pay homage to late Justice (r) Rana Bhagwandas.
A report regarding implementation on the National Action Plan (NAP) as well as Operation ZarbeAzb was also presented during the meeting.
Meanwhile, upon the directives of Premier Nawaz Sharif, two special committees of the federal cabinet were formed, which were tasked to contact political parties on a constitutional amendment regarding Senate elections.
These committees were tasked to convince rest of the political parties for the amendment. The first committee will comprise Pervaiz Rashid, Khawaja Saad Rafiq and Anusha Rehman, while the second will include Ahsan Iqbal, Mehtab Abbasi and Barrister Zafarullah.
The committees were directed to immediately contact all the political parties, so that the amendment could be brought prior to the Senate elections due on March 5.
The secretaries water & power and petroleum & natural resources gave a detailed presentation to the cabinet on energy related issues.
The cabinet was informed that LNGbased 3,600 MW power generation projects would be completed by December 2017.
The prime minister said that action would be taken against all those responsible for any delay in completing the energy projects as the whole nation was suffering due to energy shortages.
He directed that the proposed projects should be completed by February 2017.
He emphasised that each day was crucial for the development of the country and directed working on fast track basis to complete the energy projects.
Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Information Senator Pervaiz Rashid on Monday invited Pakistan TehreekeInsaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan to help the government make laws against ‘horsetrading’ in the wake of upcoming Senate elections.
Speaking to media representatives, he said it was vital to make necessary amendments in the Constitution before March 5, the scheduled date for Senate polls.
Rashid said the Pakistan Muslim LeagueNawaz (PMLN) would contact PTI and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) among all parliamentary parties for the formulation of relevant laws regarding horsetrading.
He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had constituted two committees regarding horsetrading as one was set to present legal recommendation on Monday while the other, comprising ministers, would contact political parties in this regard.
The information minister said that the government had serious concerns over reports of horsetrading from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He said serious efforts were required to eradicate the tradition of horsetrading from the country.
Commenting on progress in electoral reforms, Pervaiz Rashid said the prime minister had formed a committee with representation from all political parties. However, boycott of the Parliament and the container politics stopped the committee form taking steps in the right direction, he added.
Later, Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafiq contacted MQM to take it on board and to get support for the passage of constitutional amendment. According to sources, MQM gave its consent to support the new amendment likely to be introduced by the government.
Agencies add: The CDA chairman proposed in the cabinet meeting that publicprivate partnership might be allowed to overcome financial constraints being faced by the Capital Development Authority (CDA).
The prime minister, while approving the proposal in principle, directed the CDA chairman to work out necessary amendment required in the CDA laws for approval by the parliament.
The cabinet considered and approved initiation of negotiation for Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Formal approval of the InterGovernment Framework Agreement signed between Pakistan and China for government concessional loan to finance the Karachi Nuclear Power (K2/K3) Project, and for signing of the Reciprocal Agreement and memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Pakistan and Iran was also accorded approval by the cabinet.
The cabinet okayed starting of negotiations on an agreement on transfer of offenders/sentenced persons between Pakistan and Malaysia.
The federal cabinet granted its permission, in principle, to start talks with United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the field of manpower.
Meanwhile, the ECP on Monday stated that the constitutional amendment will not be applicable to the current Senate elections going to be held soon, reported a private TV channel.
According to ECP sources, if the Senate elections are delayed then the upper house will be dissolved.
According to the ECP sources, current elections cannot be performed by show of hand. The ECP also stated that a schedule has already been issued for the Senate elections. The electoral process cannot be changed now.