In an inexplicable turn of events, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi seems intent on keeping the controversy surrounding the Senate Elections alive much further. An otherwise non-confrontational man, the PM has gone on the offensive on this issue, saying that the recent Senate elections should be scrapped and the senators who bought their way to the parliament should be sent packing. This extremely controversial stance comes after PM Abbasi a few days ago refused to meet Sadiq Sanjrani, the first ever Senate Chairman from Balochistan, saying that he was elected through unfair means and therefore was not a true representative of the country, a stance that had cause quiet some uproar.

This is a rare display of aggressiveness by the PM, who is usually uncontroversial and cool-headed. The PM has justified this confrontation by saying that respect for politicians and the political system was imperative for a nation to prosper, and said that these elections should be called void, due to the influence of money and horse-trading, which he alleged would lead to representatives who would serve their own interests, and not the country’s.

While the PM’s intentions may be noble, his stubbornness on this issue is ill-timed, and the consequences are very steep. . All of his remarks are ultimately drawing flak from the opposition parties, with some of them threatening to march on Islamabad if the PM’s criticism is not taken back. This looks like another political showdown in the making - with very little benefit to be gained governance wise. The PM may think scrapping the elections would be good for democracy, but a political confrontation between the government and opposition would be disastrous for the parliament, and would definitely delay the 2018 elections, a consequence that nobody wants.

Moreover, the PM’s confrontational approach is futile since it does not achieve anything at the end of the day. There is no legal procedure for removing people elected through horse trading - or even identifying who they are. At most, this issue is a political cudgel to beat opponents with. If the government - and the opposition too according to their comments - is sincere about ending horse trading they should look towards reforming the secret indirect balloting system employed in the Senate elections. The Senate Elections were unsavoury to be sure, but they are legitimate under the constitution.