K-P governor advocates unopposed Senate polls

In Local
April 01, 2024



PESHAWAR:

 

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Governor Haji Ghulam Ali has offered his good offices to political parties in the province to reach a consensus ahead of April 2 Senate elections and get their candidates elected to the upper house of the parliament unopposed.

“Like Punjab and Balochistan, senators should also be elected unopposed in the K-P. The Governor House is open for politics of reconciliation,” Ali said on Sunday while speaking in an event held at the Governor House in connection with distribution of a Ramazan package.

Uncertainty shrouds the Senate elections in K-P as the PTI-backed provincial government employs delaying tactics to impede newly elected opposition candidates on reserved seats from participating in the April 2 Senate polls. The PTI has approached the Peshawar High Court (PHC) seeking intervention to prevent the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) from postponing the Senate elections due to the delayed administration of oaths to opposition parties’ candidates-elect.

The PHC is slated to consider the PTI’s petition today (Monday).

Earlier, the PTI, having lost its election symbol before the February 8 general elections, fielded its candidates as independents. Later, PTI-backed independents aligned with the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) to secure reserved seats for women and minorities.

However, the ECP rebuffed the party’s request, contending that the SIC failed to submit its priority list for such seats before the polls. The ECP decided to allocate reserved seats among other parties based on their general seats.

The PHC upheld the ECP order. While hearing petitions filed by opposition parties, the court last week also directed the K-P speaker to administer oaths to MPA-elects on reserved seats to enable their participation in the Senate elections.

To comply with the court order and hinder the oath-taking of opposition candidates before the Senate polls, the PTI-backed provincial government summoned the assembly session on the election day, April 2.

Although the session’s timing was not specified, it is expected to commence after the Senate election on Tuesday evening, effectively forestalling the participation of opposition candidates in voting.
Currently, the PTI-backed MPAs number 91, while opposition lawmakers total 27. If Senate elections precede the administration of oaths to new MPAs elected on reserved seats, the PTI is poised to win 10 Senate seats, including two women and two technocrats’ seats, with the opposition securing just one of the 11 seats up for grabs.

However, if women and minority MPAs in the K-P assembly take oaths before the Senate polls, the PTI is expected to lose at least four seats, including two general and one technocrat and women’s seat each.

The ECP has warned that Senate elections in K-P will be postponed if the provincial government refuses to hold the assembly session and delays the oath-taking ceremony.

Adviser to the K-P CM on Information Muhammad Ali Saif emphasized that the ECP is obligated by law to hold elections within a specific timeframe.

The ECP has completed its preparation for the Senate elections, including printing of ballot papers and transmission of election material to returning officers.

Out of the vacant 48 seats in the Senate, 18 candidates have been elected unopposed. Elections will be held for the remaining 30 seats, including 11 seats from the K-P.

According to the final list of candidates issued by returning officers, the 18 candidates elected unopposed include 7 candidates elected on general seats from Punjab and all 11 candidates from Balochistan— including 7 elected on general seats, 2 on women seats, and 2 on technocrat/academia seats.

Now the election is scheduled to be held for one general and one technocrat seat in Islamabad; 2 women seats, 2 technocrat/academia seats and one non-Muslim’s seat in Punjab; 7 general seats, 2 women seats, 2 technocrat/academia seats, and one non-Muslim seat in Sindh, and 7 general seats, 2 women seats, and 2 technocrat seats in the K-P.

In the K-P, 16 candidates are contesting for seven general seats.
These include PTI-backed independent candidates—Asif Rafiq, Azhar Mashwani, Khurram Zeeshan, Dilawar Khan, Shafqat Ayaz, Irfan Salim, Faisal Javed, Faizur Rahman, Muhammad Azam Swati, Muhammad Waqas Orazkzai, Murad Saeed, Mirza Muhammad Afridi, and Peer Noor-ul-Haq Qadri. PML-N’s Niaz Ahmed, PPP’s Muhammad Talha Mahmood, and JUI-F’s Attaullah Darwish are also contesting for the general seats.

Four candidates are contesting for two reserved seats for women.

They include Rubina Khalid from the PPP and three independents—Rubina Naz, Ayesha Banu, and Mahwash Ali Khan. There are six candidates for two technocrat seats–Dilawar Khan from the JUI-F as well as five independents Khalid Masood, Syed Arshad Hussain, Azam Swati, Noor-ul-Haq Qadri, and Waqar Ahmed Qazi.

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