Senate Polls 21st Constitutional Amendment Pak- India Talks Other News
21st Constitutional Amendment
Pak- India Talks
As senate polls are due on March 5th, ruling party Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz is mulling steps for end to horse trading. Federal government is making this effort to amend the law in order to prevent Senate polls from electoral foul play as it is reported that Senate tickets were being traded for millions of rupees.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif formed committees comprising his ministers to meet opposition parties and take them into confidence over the issue. Representatives of ruling party met Pakistan Tehreek-e Insaaf, Pakistan People’s Party and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F) in a bid to convince them for helping allowing changes in existing procedures. According to media reports, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed deep concern over the reports of alleged use of wealth and influence for the forthcoming Senate elections, and directed for immediate steps to make the process transparent, open and fair.
The meeting of PML-N representatives with the PPP didn’t yield an immediate success as the opposition party agreed with the proposal to prevent expected horse trading, and sought an All-Parties Conference (APC) to thrash out this issue. Meanwhile meeting with JUI-F also did not bring any fruitful result either as its chief Maulana Fazlur Rahman expressed concerns over the proposed Constitutional Amendment saying the memories of the 21st Amendment are unpleasant that it is tough for his party to support the 22nd Amendment.
If the government fails to pave way for 22nd Constitutional Amendment, the chances of proposed replacement of secret balloting procedure in Senate elections with open balloting will be minimal.
Case hearings regarding the legal status of 21st Constitutional Amendment continues as a three-member bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, hearing the petitions filed against the 21st Amendment suggested the formation of larger bench for further hearing and referred the matter to the chief justice of Pakistan.
Earlier, the federation and the provincial governments, through their replies submitted in the apex court pleaded the dismissal of petitions filed against the adaptation of 21st Constitutional Amendment, and supported the formation of military courts in the country. The federal government stated that the passage of 21st Constitutional Amendment was not contrary to the basic structure of the constitution of Pakistan and it imposed no constraints on the free judiciary.
The government had brought in the 21st Constitutional Amendment to allow the trial of hardcore terrorists in military courts for speedy justice. This came after terrorists attack on an army school in Peshawar in December in which over 150 people were killed, most of them school children. In the past suspected terrorists were often acquitted by the civil courts due to lack of evidence.
Resumption of foreign secretary- level talks between Pakistan and India got much attention of Pakistani media this week as Foreign Office confirms a two day visit of Indian Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar next month.
According to reports, the Indian foreign secretary would hold meeting with Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry. Apart from outstanding issues including Kashmir, Siachin and Sir Creek, Pakistan would take up the issues including Line of Control (LoC) tension, Samjhota Express probe, terror boat incident, Indian involvement in terrorism in north-western tribal-belt and Balochistan insurgency, whereas the Indian side is expected to bring up the Mumbai attacks issue and Pakistan’s alleged support to separatist groups in Indian-Occupied Kashmir. According to media reports talks will also include strategic stability, people-to-people contacts and trade matters.
Initially the Pakistan-India foreign secretary-level talks were scheduled on August 25 in Islamabad but India cancelled the talks in protest after Pakistani High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit met Hurriyat leaders ahead of the secretaries meeting.
Meanwhile just days before the visit of Indian foreign secretary, Chief of the Army Staff General Raheel Sharif visited the villages in Sialkot affected by cross border firing and warned India of a ‘befitting response’ to the provocations along the Line of Control. Indian security forces have recently been using unprovoked firing on Working Boundary and LoC which resulted in serious tension between the two countries.
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