ISLAMABAD, Mar 1 (APP):Advisor to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan Monday said the Supreme Court in its opinion on the presidential reference highlighted the government’s stance and asked the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to ensure transparency in the Senate elections.

Paragraphs 3, 5 and 6 of the opinion were very important where the apex court had highlighted the stance of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), he said talking to the media here outside the Election Commission of Pakistan flanked with Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood, Minister for Science and Technology Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, and Special Assistant to the PM Shehbaz Gill.

Dr Babar said the SC, in its opinion, quoted the verdict of a 5-member bench in Niaz Ahmed case of 1967 in which the court had held that the secrecy of the ballot was not absolute and that it had not to be tempered by practical consideration necessitated by the process of election.

He said today the apex court advised the ECP to decide the matter regarding secrecy of ballots in the Senate election keeping in view the ground realities.

The advisor said the government formed a two-member committee including Chaudhry Fawad Hussain and SAPM Shahzad Akbar to probe horse-trading in the last Senate elections resurfaced through the video scandal. Notices were issued to the three senators, who were elected through unfair means as their party had no representation in the provincial assembly.

The videos, he said, were an undeniable proof of horse-trading where everyone could witness the buying and selling of votes. The members of provincial assembly (MPA) could be seen receiving huge amounts, he added.

He said the ECP had five powers under Article 218 of the Constitution for holding elections in an honest and transparent manner. Fairness and transparency demanded that every assembly member should cast his/her vote according to the party policy, he added.

Dr Babar said it was a decisive moment to hold transparent elections, and all stakeholders, including the ECP, political parties and individual voters, would have play their due role to uphold transparency in the Senate polls.

He said from day one Prime Minister Imran Khan was striving for transparency in the elections.

The credit went to his government, which approached the Supreme Court to seek its opinion on open ballot in the Senate polls, a first step towards transparency in the electoral process. Accordingly, it also introduced a constitutional amendment in the Parliament and held consultations with political forces.

Article 23 of the Charter of Democracy, he said, also called for Senate polls through open and identifiable ballot. Article 2-A of Objective Resolution also called for open balloting, he added.