ISLAMABAD: A majority of Senators expressed their support for the existing system of election for members of the Senate on Thursday, but demanded more political powers for the upper house.
The upper house was transformed into a Senate Committee of the Whole to discuss the mode of election for members of the Senate and the pros and cons of single transferable voting system, alternatives and system reforms etc. The committee meeting was presided over by Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani.
Almost all Senators who spoke at the meeting expressed concern over allegations that a massive amount of money was used to buy loyalties of MPAs and to get elected to the Senate.
A majority of speakers suggested that the system of secret voting should be replaced with a show of hands to minimise ambiguities related to voters.
They demanded that the Senate should also have a role in the approval of finance bill and election of the prime minister.
Currently, the Senate has no role in all legislations relating to the finance bill, including the annual budget, or in the election or vote of confidence of the prime minister.
Tahir Mashhadi said that the Senate, through recent initiatives, had made its name far better and efficient than before.
He said that the Senate was a symbol of federating units as all provinces had equal representation in it.
Sardar Azam Musakhel said that in direct elections for the Senate, a province as a whole should be a constituency and because of direct elections, Senators would be more accountable to their electorates and political leadership and workers would be more active.
Chaudhry Tanveer said that direct elections would not resolve the problem. He said that small reforms in the system and rules of the upper house would make it more effective.
Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldin criticised the system to elect senators and said there was need for reforming the entire system. He said that senators should be directly elected by the people while chief secretaries, governors and IG police in provinces should not be appointed by the federal government.
Closing the debate, Taj Haider said that controlling the sale and purchase of Senate seats was the responsibility of respective parties and that senators too should be directly elected by the people.
The Committee of the Whole will meet again next week.