As the Senate polls get underway, it is becoming increasingly clear that the PPP will end up as the dominant force in the Upper House. The outcome of these polls will carry on beyond the next general election, given that each senator serves six years, with half the house which now consists of 104 members, following the introduction of reserved seats for minorities under the 18th Amendment, going to polls every three years.
With the provincial assemblies forming the electoral college for the Senate election, the PPP is set to make important gains, giving it more control over parliament. This will be of key significance in the years ahead, and was almost certainly the major factor in the resistance put up by opposition parties to the polls, as various efforts were made to shove them off-track. Allusions to this have been made again and again by the prime minister and other members of the ruling party. It is fortunate that these efforts have not worked — especially since at several points there were rumours wafting through the winds that there may even be an effort to oust the government ahead of the date for the Senate polls. Given that the elections have taken place, it points to the fact that our democracy continues to function, surviving all the strains placed on it from time to time by external forces which have too often played a role in determining the events of state.
With several Senators already voted in unopposed, we are also beginning to see the possible shape of the Upper House. Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan and Ishaq Dar, of the PPP and the PML-N respectively, will both be part of it from Punjab. They should bring a voice of experience to the body and also play a part in building the kind of maturity we need. The Senate requires such seasoned politicians who aim to focus on finding legislative means to rescue the country from the multitude of problems that it currently faces.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2012.
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