Senate elections are going to be held within days and voices of horse-trading are coming from every nook and corner. Smaller provinces and FATA are the areas most vulnerable to this menace.

Senate is a platform to provide equal representation to all federating units of Pakistan including FATA and Islamabad.

Every party which has representation in provincial assemblies nominates its candidates for senate seats. Generally loyalty with party and professionalism are the main criteria on which tickets are awarded to the candidates. Moreover, a few people contest senate election as an independent candidate.  

As per law of the land, votes are to be cast through secret ballots and chances of vote being caste against the party nominee are very much there. A few big shots who want to become senators tend to win over with the help of money i.e. horse-trading.

Fortunately or unfortunately this menace of horse-trading haunts all the political parties having representation in different assemblies. The largest political party of Pakistan, PML-N, under the dynamic leadership of Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif has come forward to get rid of this menace of horse-trading once and for all. By adding strength to his democratic credentials, Sharif has endorsed the voice of his rival political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf which is second largest opposition party in the parliament. He has called All Parties Conference (APC) to pave the way for passage of the 22nd constitutional amendment to put an end to horse-trading.

Two committees have been formed to take all other political parties on board for smooth passage of this amendment.

Two sessions of APC have been presided over by the prime minister himself so as to build consensus on it. A draft of amendment has been forwarded to all political parties for further progress.

The proposed draft recommends modifications in article 59(1) and 226 of constitution of Pakistan to make senate elections transparent. Word elected will be changed with chosen in article 59.

Moreover an exemption from article 226 has been proposed for senate election because senate elections are an indirect elections and come under the category of chosen.

Few major political parties have shown their reservations on different pretexts regarding this amendment. Apparently, timing of amendment has been objected by Jamiat Ulema Islam (Fazl), which is an ally of the government. Moreover, Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarian (PPPP) has demanded a full-fledged package of electoral reforms for amendment in the constitution.

Awami National Party (ANP) has also endorsed its viewpoint. In addition to it, two major political parties Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Muttahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM) are staunch supporter of passage of the 22nd amendment and are working to develop consensus for elimination of horse-trading in current senate elections.

Even PTI Chairman Imran Khan has contacted telephonically with PPPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari for taking support in passage of this constitutional amendment.

Role of print and electronic media has been commendable in highlighting the issue of horse-trading in current senate elections. They are building pressure on dissenting voices to change their point of view for better cause of electing true representation in senate.

It is a good omen that all major political parties have consensus to curb this illegal and immoral practice and need of the hour is to transform this wish into reality through passage of the 22nd amendment with consensus in the parliament.

Once we succeed in curbing horse-trading through passage of the 22nd amendment, it will pave the way for not only strengthening political parties but also institutions in Pakistan and ultimately will further stabilise and strengthen democracy in the country.

–The writer Maiza Hameed is member of national assembly and belongs to the

ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz).