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March 6, 2008

58 independents join political parties

March 6, 2008

ISLAMABAD: Fifty-eight independent members-elect for the National Assembly and the four provincial assemblies had joined different political parties by Tuesday evening, the deadline set by the election commission for them to join any party.

According to the election commission, 11 MNAs-elect and 32 MPAs-elect from the Punjab, 13 MPAs-elect from the NWFP and two MPAs-elect from Balochistan have joined political parties. Out of the total 11 MNAs-elect who have joined any political party so far, seven have joined the Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) and four the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N).

Among those who have joined the PPPP, five MNAs-elect are from the Punjab and one each from the NWFP and Balochistan while all the four MNAs-elect, who have joined the PML-N, are from the Punjab.

The election commission, in its statement about the MNAs-elect joining any political party, has only mentioned the numbers of the constituencies and no names or parties of their choice have been mentioned.

However, it can be easily assessed by going through the election results of these constituencies and interaction with sources in different political parties who had decided to stand by whom.

MNAs-elect Mehboobullah (NA-23), Nawabzada Malik Amad Khan (NA-71), Rana Farooq Saeed Khan (NA-79), Chaudhry Muhammad Tariq Anis (NA-116), Sajjadul Hasan (NA-144), Syed Mumtaz Alam Gillani (NA-189) and Mir Humayun Aziz Kurd (NA-267) have joined the PPPP.

As the PPPP earlier had 85 NA seats in its account as per the party position shown by the election commission, the addition of these seven seats would take the total to 92. Similarly, those who have joined the PML-N include Humair Hayat Rokhri (NA-72), Abdul Majid Khan Khanankhel (NA-73), Rashid Akbar Khan (NA-74) and Haji Mudassar Qayyum Nahra (NA-100).

With these members joining the PML-N, the figure of this party in the National Assembly reaches 70. The figures show that these two

major future coalition partners have 162 seats in the National Assembly against the Pakistan Muslim League's just 39 seats.

According to the election commission statistics, out of the total 29 independent MNAs-elect, 11 had so far joined the political parties. Out of the remaining 18 MNAs-elect, 12 are from Fata and six from other constituencies. The Fata MNAs-elect, as they are not covered by the political parties act, can support any party as independents but cannot formally join any party.

Moreover, there are still six MNAs-elect who have to stay independent or support some party as the time for them to join any party is over now. Seeing the situation in the Punjab Assembly, after 27 MPAs-elect have joined the PML-N, the number of total seats to their credit rises to 131 instead of earlier 104 seats. As the election commission shows their earlier seats figure in the general contest at 104, adding up these 27 to the previous total takes it to 131.

In Punjab, five independents have joined the PPPP, bringing the party's total seats tally to 85 instead of the previous figure of 80 seats. Pakistan Muslim League has 68 seats in the Punjab Assembly and 34 had got elected as independent candidates out of whom 32 have now joined the parties.

With regard to the situation in the NWFP, five MPAs-elect have joined the Awami National Party, six have joined the PPPP and two PML-N, the total number of each party in the provincial assembly reaches 34, 23 and 7 seats respectively.

With the election commission yet to decide on the allocation of reserved seats for women and minorities, it can take a day or so further to know the actual party position of all the political parties in the National Assembly as well as the provincial assemblies. Out of 70 reserved seats, 60 are for women and 10 for non-Muslims.

However, the present situation shows that if only the PPPP, PML-N and ANP are going to form the government at the Centre, they enjoy the support of 172 members, the exact two-thirds majority of the 258 results officially notified so far. For having an overall two-thirds majority, any party or the coalition will have to have 228 seats to their account.

As the house has a total 342 seats, the final calculation about two-thirds majority can only be made after the decision on the pending results, polling in constituencies where election was postponed or terminated and the allocation of reserved seats.

Although, it is too early to calculate the allocation of reserved seats, one can apply a simple formula of multiplying the total seats any party has in its account so far with the reserved seats and then divide by the total (342) NA seats.

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