ISLAMABAD - Political parties sitting on both sides of the aisle in Parliament have agreed to the point of bringing constitutional amendment to change the mode of elections for Senate from secret ballot to show of hand with some ‘ifs and buts’, mainly to check the ugly game of horse-trading in these elections.

The two committees constituted by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for getting approval of the proposal from other parliamentary parties though secured affirmative nod from almost all the parties, but some of the Parliamentarians were opposed to bringing the amendment in haste while the legal experts are also divided over the application of the amendment on current elections, even if made before the polling day (March 5).

Some legal experts were of the view that the amendment in the constitution made now could not be applicable to the Senate elections as the process of elections has already been initiated and once the process is set in motion no change in its rules and regulations could be made.

While there is a group of legal and constitutional experts who are of the view that once the amendment to the constitution is made it would come into force with immediate effect, so if the amendment in the constitution is notified before March 5 it would be applicable on the elections.

The legal team of the government has already worked out an amendment to Article 226 of the Constitution wherein a sub-clause would be inserted in it explaining that the elections to the Upper House of the Parliament would be made through show of hands instead of secret ballot.

Article 226 of the constitution reads; “All elections under the constitution other than those of the Prime Minister and Chief Minister, shall be by secret ballot.”

In another development, the President of Pakistan has summoned the sessions of Senate and National Assembly on Feb. 27 and March 4 respectively and if the government wins support of major political parties in the Parliament, the 22nd Amendment to the constitution would be made changing the Senate elections from secret ballot to show of hand.

The two committees formed by Premier Sharif and comprising Pervaiz Rasheed, Kh. Saad Rafique and Anusha Rehman, and second one comprising Ch. Ahsan Iqbal, Mehtab Ahmad Khan and Barrister Zafrullah contacted heads of various political parties and almost all of them in principle  have agreed to the point of changing the mode of Senate elections from secret ballot to show of hand, but the formal reply from these parties would come after consultations with their party heads in next day or so.

Sources in government informed The Nation that MQM Senator Babar Ghauri had supported the idea when approached by PML-N leader Kh. Saad Rafique but said that the final decision in this connection would be made by the party chief Altaf Hussain after consulting the Rabita Committee.

Similarly, Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah has appreciated the move but he too has said that he would come up with formal reply after consulting the party leadership.

PTI chairman Imran Khan on Monday held a meeting with Governor Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa Sardar Mehtab Ahmad Khan Abbasi wherein both sides discussed ways and means to block the expected horse-trading in the Senate elections in the province and the idea of legislation in this connection also figured in the discussion.

On the other hand, the opposition parties in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa including PML-N, JUI-F, QWP, ANP and PPP had failed to devise some joint strategy to contest Senate elections jointly from the province, as some parties had rejected the proposal of sharing one seat each out of the five seats likely to come to opposition parties commensurate to their numerical strength in the 124-member provincial assembly.

The sources aware of the deliberations taking place between the opposition parties with Governor KP Sardar Mehtab Ahmad Khan Abbasi, also representing the PML-N, failed to convince the opposition parties on sharing one seat each leaving the doors open for horse-trading, with almost all parties in the provincial assembly vulnerable.