As if the Senate elections weren’t marked with controversy already, a new issue has arisen. The Elections, which occurred in March of this year, had already been marred with allegations of horse-trading and bribery. Now Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) emir Senator Sirjaul Haq has made another extraordinary claim about the elections, where he alleges that the election of the chairman was orchestrated “from the top”, an allegation that seriously damages the elections credibility.

The JI emir implicates its ally party, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) in this claim, saying that Khyber Pakhtunkwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak had called him some days before the Senate chairman’s election and sought JI votes for their nominee. When asked about the name of the nominee, Khattak said he was not aware of the name yet because the decision was “coming from the top”, a veiled reference to the establishment.

While this revelation inflicts damage to the credibility of the elections, it is an even bigger blow to PTI. The party, which has always emphasised honesty and transparency, was just celebrating electoral integrity by naming its party members involved in horse-trading. The party has been hit by a broadside from an ally that claims that the party took directions from the military voting for Sirjani. Not only does this cast further doubt on the already murky elections, it undercuts PTI’s narrative and exposes the role the military has played in shutting out the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. Not only will it be harder for PTI to refute the ‘bias’ arguments of the PML-N on the Panama case, but every instance of establishment engineering against the PML-N has seen the leading party win even more votes in elections.

While this sets out an unfortunate start to the election year, revealing truths coming out early are good for the general elections, since they ensure that such practices are not repeated. The credibility of Senate Elections may have been effectively damaged, however, repeating the Elections may not be the best course of action, considering nobody wants the general elections delayed. What the controversies around these elections should do is put everyone on their toes, especially those authorities which meddle in democracy. Establishment playing a role in elections never stays a secret; rather, it is its own players, like Sirajul Haw, and PSP’s Mustafa Kamal during the proposed MQM-PSP merger, which exposes external interference.