Minister for Railways Azam Swati on Sunday said that the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) “rejected” Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s candidate in the Senate election and he should now rethink siding with the opposition alliance.
The minister was addressing a press conference alongside Sadiq Sanjrani who was reelected as Senate chairman in a blow to the opposition alliance who had jointly fielded Yousaf Raza Gillani and had expected victory with their majority of 51 seats in the upper house of parliament.
The government swept away the entire election, also clinching the post of deputy chairman with Mirza Mohammad Afridi defeating the opposition’s Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri.
Swati’s remarks referred to the defeat of Haideri, who is a member of the Fazlur Rehman-led JUI-F party, and who obtained 44 votes versus Afridi’s 54.
“PDM rejected [Fazlur Rehman’s] candidate. Their is no room for him [in the alliance] now,” the minister said.
“He should wisen up and think again if he wants to continue [siding with them],” Swati added.
Swati said that the way “cracks are emerging in PDM means that the parties have always served their own interests”.
“Their narrative has been defeated and they must repent now and allow us to complete Imran Khan’s reform agenda for the next two and a half years — and then we will again emerge victorious in 2023,” he said.
‘They can continue to hit their heads’
Speaking of the opposition’s decision to challenge the Senate election results, he said that no matter what the opposition does, the “Constitution protects us”.
“This is not an election held by the Election Commission. This is an upper house election. The Election Act has no bearing on this,” he said, adding that there are two Sections of the Constitution that “guarantee us full protection”.
“[The opposition] can continue to hit their heads [but will not succeed in having their way],” Swati said.
On electoral reforms and whether the government will invite the opposition for consultation, the minister said: “If the opposition is sensible, if they wish to serve democracy, they must know that reforms can only be brought with the law and Constitution.”
He said the government simply seeks to make the Senate election process “so transparent that everyone should know who voted for whom”.
“The only way to defeat this practice of votes buying is by implementing what Imran Khan is saying,” Swati said.
He also called for the 39 amendments in the Election Act that he has filed to be passed by the parliament.
Swati said that Sanjrani has “played a positive role” as Senate chairman the last three years and he is confident after his reelection that he will continue to play an effective role in the three years ahead.