The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government is inching closer towards making two important constitutional amendments; an end to the secret ballot in the Senate elections and allowing for dual nationals to contest elections. In principle, all major Pakistani political parties are on the same page on this, but in reality, getting the opposition to side with the government might not be simple.

The system of Senate elections, the inclusion of party members into the upper house and the election of the Chairman has all been decried time and again by parties on all sides of the spectrum. Parties in majority cannot get business done, and the exchange of money, gifts and favours is often the determining factor in key votes such as when choosing a chairman or moving a vote of no confidence. Since all parties have accused others of indulging in such activities, moving away from the secret ballot entirely is in everyone’s best interest.

Allowing for dual nationals to contest elections also stands on similar argumentative ground. All sides of the political spectrum have often accused other parties of having dual nationals in their ranks—using the ‘conflict of interest’ logic—but then in their time in power, they have to defend their own selection of dual national candidates for the Cabinet, from both elected and unelected cadres.

It is time to put these issues to bed. But with the two-thirds majority needed to make constitutional amendments, the government must seek the opposition’s support once more. Getting it for the FATF laws was simpler, because an issue of national interest was at stake. However, given that the debate on dual nationals was widely taken up by the ruling party during PML-N’s tenure, PTI cannot expect an easy route to getting these amendments passed. The government must employ a conciliatory tone and look to work together if these important amendments are to be passed.