Hours ahead of the voting for the posts of the Senate Chairman and Deputy Chairman, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar revealed that spy cameras and microphones were found inside the polling booth.

Following his revelation, the opposition lawmakers, who were fuming, demanded a probe as to who installed these cameras inside the booth. They termed it a “massive breach of security”.

Lawmakers will meet today later in the day to vote for the posts of the Chairman and Deputy Chairman. The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) has fielded Yousaf Raza Gillani for the post of the Senate Chairman whereas the government has decided to endorse the incumbent Senate chief Sadiq Sanjrani.

In a tweet, the PPP lawmaker wrote: “Myself and Dr Musadik found spy cameras right over the polling booth!!!!”

Addressing a press conference alongside Senator Musadik Malik, Senator Khokhar urged the ECP to take notice of the installation of spy cameras in the polling booth. He said the presence of these cameras was akin to comprising the secrecy of the ballot.

The opposition lawmaker addressed the Senate Secretary, saying it was his job to ensure transparency in the election. The booth was reportedly removed by the opposition lawmakers and placed on the seat of the Secretary.

Senator Musadik Malik said there were two cameras and microphones installed in the polling booth. He added that “apparently nobody knows how these cameras were placed in the booth”.

Meanwhile, the opposition continued to record its protest throughout the Senate session that was convened for the oath-taking ceremony of the senators.

According to the Senator, the cameras were positioned to capture the ballot paper and the senators at the time of the voting.

Raza Rabbani, PPP Senator, also questioned the presence of cameras inside the polling booth.

Information Minister Shibli Faraz said the government will investigate who installed these cameras inside the polling booth.

Numbers Game

The government coalition – which includes the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), and the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) – has a total of 47 senators behind it.

The opposition – consisting of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), National Party (NP) and Awami National Party (ANP) – has a total of 53 senators behind it.

Discounting Ishaq Dar, who has not taken an oath and is in self-imposed exile, the opposition has 52 seats out of a possible 99. Even if JI abstains from voting and the ANP votes for the government, the opposition can still win the top slots if lawmakers vote along the party lines.

The government is still reeling from its defeat on the Islamabad seat, which it lost to the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s Gillani despite enjoying a majority in the National Assembly. In a bid to make up for the humiliating defeat, the government said it would use “all means” to ensure Sanjrani’s victory.

The statement indicates that horse-trading may once again rule the Senate elections, as the opposition has an upper hand in the Senate when it comes to numbers. A government win will likely mean votes are sold/wasted by the opposition lawmakers or switched loyalties among opposition factions.

There are also reports in sections of the media that seven opposition senators, allegedly belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), would defy the party to vote for PTI-backed Sanjrani.

If that happens it will be a repeat of the opposition’s no-confidence vote against Sadiq Sanjrani last summer that it lost even though it had enough lawmakers on its side to send Sanjrani packing.

Meanwhile, the opposition is confident that it will win both slots since it now holds a majority in the house. If the opposition wins the seats, it will be in complete control of the upper house that plays a crucial role in legislation and other parliamentary oversight.


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