Members of the Senate on Friday welcomed the announcement of the general election date, with the treasury side still defending the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for going for delimitation of the electoral constituencies before announcing the polls.
The upper house of parliament met here with Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani in the chair.
Speaking in the house, Opposition Leader Shehzad Wasim described Thursday as a historic day, as the election date was announced with consensus among all the relevant sides.
He was referring to the consensus between President Dr Arif Alvi and Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja on holding the next general election on Feb 8. The CEC had called on the president on the instructions of the Supreme Court.
Read More: Country heads to polls after SC intervention
Wasim said that elections should have been held in 90 days of the dissolution of the assemblies in accordance with the constitutional provisions.
He also raised the point that the debate about who would give the election date should end now.
“The date of the election is announced with consensus,” Wasim said, stressing that when decisions were made, their implementation should also be ensured.
“Now, the decision is in the people’s court,” the opposition leader said.
To the opposition leader’s speech, leader of the house and former finance minister Ishaq Dar defended the delay in calling the elections, saying that the ECP was constitutionally mandated to re-demarcate the constituencies after the digital census was approved and notified.
“We also wanted the election within 90 days but delimitation of the constituencies is also a constitutional requirement, therefore, other provisions of the Constitution should also be remembered,” Dar said. “Delimitations are necessary after the new census.”
Dar told the house that when he, as the then finance minister, presented the budget in June, there was only Rs5 billion allocation for the ECP.
Read More: Alvi calls for ‘forgiveness’ ahead of polls
He added that the ECP was asking for Rs54 billion, but the allocation of Rs46 billion was agreed.
“Despite this [allocation]Rs16 billion more was required. We were in the IMF (International Monetary Fund) programme at that time. However, the National Assembly stopped me through a resolution,” the leader of the house said.
Meanwhile, Senator Mohsin Aziz raised the issue of gas tariff hike in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. He said that the rate had been increased from Rs1,100 to Rs2,600 which was more than 130%.
The Senate session was under way when Senator Fida Muhammad pointed out the lack of quorum and the session was adjourned until Monday.