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Senate elections: Bilawal says govt’s own parliamentarians ready to vote against it in open ballot

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PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari. — YouTube/Hum News Live

PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Monday alleged that the government was afraid and did not have confidence in its own parliamentarians, saying that their lawmakers would vote against them even in an open ballot in the upcoming Senate elections.

"The government wants to make the Senate elections controversial like the general elections were made controversial," said the PPP chairperson, adding that the federal government was attempting to do so through ordinances and references.

He said that the "right to secret ballot" was available for every citizen of Pakistan so that no one could impede their right to elect their representative without fear of any reprisal or revenge of any sort.

"My right to secret ballot is being attacked, my MPAs' right to secret ballot is being attacked," he said. "We are supportive of electoral reforms but this government does not want it," added the PPP chairperson.

Bilawal said that if the government wanted to bring about electoral reforms, it could have done so easily over the past three years it was in power.

"When they got to know the Pakistan Democratic Movement was contesting Senate elections and they knew their MPAs and MNAs were not happy [with the government] they showed a lack of confidence in their own parliamentarians," he added.

'What is the use of assemblies'?

The PPP chairperson said that the Opposition will challenge the presidential ordinance on the open Senate ballot signed by President Arif Alvi.

"If this law [ for open balloting in Senate election] passes then you should lock the assemblies," he said. "If the entire process has to be carried out through the president's office, then what is the use if assemblies?"

Bilawal termed it a "dangerous precedent", adding that the government's facilitators should understand that through such measures, a very bad impression and message of the country will be projected throughout Pakistan and abroad.

The PPP chairperson gave the government a dire warning, stating that its own members were ready to cast votes against them in case an open ballot is held in the Senate elections.

"Your [government's] own members are ready to vote against you in an open vote," he said. "We are ready to face you even in an open vote," he added.

Criticising the government for censuring political opponents and the media, Bilawal said that all parties will give a "serious reaction" towards the government's moves.

He said that the PPP will challenge the open ballot ordinance through the Sindh government and former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani.

'I agree 100% with DG ISPR'

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When asked about his recent meeting with JUI-F chief Maulana Fazl, Bilawal said that he and the PDM chief spoke about the ordinance and the anti-government protest movement.

Responding to reports of more cases being prepared against PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz, Bilawal said that "we are coming towards them [government] on March 26.

Bilawal reacted to the DG ISPR's statement from today, saying that he agreed with it 100% statement. The PPP chairperson said that the military's spokesperson had said that the armed forces is not involved in politics.

"This is what me and my party want," he said. "How can there be any contradiction in this?"

He said that the PPP and other Opposition parties were ready to stop horse-trading during Senate elections and that parliamentarians should discuss the issue.

"But they [government] do not want to do it," he said. "They do not want to sit and discuss this. We want electoral reforms," added Bilawal.

Fazl has not disclosed a definite place for long march, says Bilawal

The PPP chairperson said that Fazl had not given any "final location" for the long march, adding that discussions were held on whether the Opposition parties wanted to congregate at Rawalpindi or Islamabad.

"These are decisions which will be taken by the PDM. Maulana sahab has not given a final location," he said.

However, he said it did not matter where the Opposition parties gathered. "When our long march begins, our strength will be visible to everyone before we even reach Rawalpindi," he said.

Bilawal demanded that the establishment should not play any role in politics. He said that if it becomes obvious after elections that the PTI participated in the elections as a party and did not receive any support, then it would be beneficial for Pakistan.

"If not, it will be a wrong step and will prove damaging for Pakistan," he said. "I hope we learned something from the 2018 general elections and such a move will not take place again."


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