Former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani on Wednesday said that the federal cabinet has made an illegal move regarding the matter of the Senate elections.
Addressing a press conference, Rabbani said that it is the job of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold the polls in the Senate, therefore, the decisions related to the election dates also lie with the ECP.
His statement came after the government decided to pushback the date for Senate elections to February instead of March 2021 a day earlier and greenlighted the process of “open voting” in the Senate.
“Under Article 213 of the Constitution of Pakistan, only the ECP has the right to announce a date for elections,” Raza Rabbani said. “Similarly, Article 224 of the Constitutions [pertaining to the time of election and by-election] states when the elections should be held.”
He added that the Federal cabinet has made an “illegal move” in relation to the Senate elections by moving the date.
“The term of the current senators will end on March 11, 2020, at 12 noon,” Raza Rabbani said. “Decisions that the Council of Common Interests (CCI) had to make are being made by the Cabinet.”
Speaking about the process of conducting Senate elections through a “show of hands,” Raza Rabbani said that the government does not have the power to get amendments passed by the House.
The former senator said that the method of conducting the elections cannot be changed, adding that Pakistan is not a “banana republic.”
“No one can violate the Constitution of Pakistan,” he stressed. “Under Article 186, the Supreme Court can only give its opinion.
Raza Rabbani also said that the provinces have not been given anything under the National Finance Commission (NFC) for the last 12 years.
“The government is talking about monitoring the NFC money in the provinces,” he said. “The federal government should not tamper with the NFC, otherwise provinces will not collect taxes.”
During the press conference, Rabbani also added that the Centre should respect provincial sovereignty, adding that the Hamoodur Rahman Commission — a judicial inquiry commission that assessed Pakistan’s political-military involvement in East-Pakistan from 1947 to 1971 — should be brought to the fore.
“We have not learned a lesson from the motives behind the formation of Bangladesh,” Raza Rabbani said.