K-P Senate election in doldrums

In Local
March 31, 2024



PESHAWAR:

In what appears to be an attempt to prevent newly elected opposition candidates from participating in the April 2 Senate polls, the PTI-led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government has instructed the provincial assembly speaker to convene an assembly session on the same day.

Although the session’s timing has not been specified, it is expected to commence after the Senate election on Tuesday evening.
The ruling party in the province has also approached the Peshawar High Court (PHC) to intervene and prevent the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) from postponing the Senate elections due to the non-administration of oaths to opposition parties’ candidates-elect.

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

However, the ECP rejected the party’s request, asserting that the SIC failed to submit its priority list for such seats before the polls. The ECP decided to distribute 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.

Now, the PTI government has called for an assembly session on election day.

The newly appointed women and minorities members will take oath as per the PHC’s directive but will be unable to vote in the Senate polls, effectively aligning with the provincial government’s strategy to prevent their participation.

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.

Currently, the PTI-backed MPAs number 91, while opposition lawmakers total 27. If Senate elections precede the administration of oath 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 seat.

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.

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. He warned that any attempt by the ECP to postpone Senate elections in K-P would be challenged in the PHC as unlawful.

It was later revealed that the PTI has already petitioned the PHC, seeking to prevent the ECP from “illegally” postponing the Senate polls.

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