Opinion: Opposition’s Hullabaloo

NAJAM UL HASNAIN — There is this misplaced commotion and unnecessary uproar by Opposition Parties over the defeat of their *No Confidence Motion* (NCM) against Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani.

Both, PPP and PML N are of the view that there were some Senators who have violated party discipline by voting against the NCM. There are talks of Horse Trading, pressure by authorities, etc.

In my view, all these uproar are totally misplaced– it’s an attempt to shy away from the factual position.

The Opposition Parties don’t seem to understand the real reason for having the provision to vote and on top of that a *secret vote* in such a situation.

If just standing in the Senate to show support for the NCM was enough, then why does the law demand that a vote be held? And why is there a need to conduct such voting in secret vote?

There is wisdom behind the method and well included by thought-leaders who wrote the Senate Rules of Business.

At least two Senators, one each from PPP & PML N openly objected to the NCM. Several thers thought similar, but could not speak up.

The provision for a secret vote in such cases allows individuals across party affiliation to express their opinion without fear or favor, and lastly to avoid “peer pressure”.

By asking to them to vote secretly, the system aims to ensure that individuals express their true and factual opinion and conscientiously– regardless of party affiliations and party position. Conversely doing so including ‘known voting mind/position’ would undermine the essence of ‘secret voting’.

Understandably, therefore, such a vote in my opinion is based on one’s conscience, personal opinion of a petty-affiliated senator, and is not considered defection. This should rather be an eye-opener for party leaders i.e. there are members who do not endorse party leaders’ decisions always– such an act if exercised is called ‘breaking shoulder’.

Interestingly, this system of secret vote was instituted much before PTI came to power. So it has nothing to do with the incumbent government.
And at the time such rule was established, it was done to give flexibility and independence to all members– even from the ruling party– so that they could vote against them also if needed and side with the opposition. Vice versa was the flip side of the coin– that is, opposition Senators breaking shoulder to side with the ruling bench.

The ‘brains’ who established this ‘secret vote’ procedure in such situation facilitated both the options (but in secrecy) and provided space for conscience voting also.

The Opposition Parties however would be in their right to bring an amendment to this procedure as well as the NAB law, and many others they consider draconian in their opinion– still in each case, secret voting would mean conscience voting.

PS: They should face it, some of their own are not or may be not be supportive of their party policies all the time. And, if such a policy is voted upon, secrecy would allow these individuals to exercise their aye or nay with conscience, ultimately shunning ‘intellectual tribalism’.

The writer is a Karachi-based professional engineer.