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Tuesday April 23, 2024

Senate polls: PPP takes lead with 11, PML-N clinches six seats

Voting was not held in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as election was postponed for vacant seats in the province

By Daniyal Aziz & Nausheen Yusuf
April 02, 2024
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif casting vote in Senate elections at Parliament House in Islamabad on April 2, 2024. — PID
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif casting vote in Senate elections at Parliament House in Islamabad on April 2, 2024. — PID

ISLAMABAD: The ruling coalition candidates swept the Senate polls with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) taking the lead with 11 seats, while the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) came in second with six seats.

The Muttahida Qaudmi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P) and an independent candidate Faisal Vawda secured one seat each.

The polling for the 19 vacant seats was held in the National, Punjab, and Sindh assemblies while elections on 11 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's seats were postponed by the Election Commission over the "denial" of oath-taking to the lawmakers elected on reserved seats.

Overall 356 lawmakers cast their votes in the upper house of parliament's elections, whereas, the votes of five NA lawmakers were rejected.

Sindh

The ruling party in Sindh — the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) — managed to win 10 Senate seats from the province, whereas, each Senate seat was won by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and an independent candidate.

On the general seat, Ashraf Ali Jatoi, Dost Ali Jessar, Kazim Ali Shah, Masroor Ahsan, and Nadeem Bhutto have been declared victors, as per preliminary results.

MQM-P’s Amir Chishti has been elected senator on a general seat while independent candidate Faisal Vawda also won the general seat in the Senate.

PPP leaders Rubina Saadat Qaimkhani and Quratulain Marri were elected on women’s seat while another PPP candidate Punjho Mil Bhail won a reserved seat for minority.

PPP’s Sarmad Ali and Zamir Ghumro won technocrat seats.

In Sindh Assembly, the provincial election commissioner Sharif Ullah announced the results of the Senate polls.

Punjab

In Punjab, Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb grabbed victory in the upper house polls on technocrat seats after securing 128 votes. PML-N leader and Federal Minister for Energy Musadik Malik also won a technocrat seat after securing 121 votes.

PML-N’s Anusha Rahman and Bushra Anjum Butt have been declared victors on women’s seats, while PML-N's Tahir Khalil Sindhu has been elected on a minority seat.

Islamabad

In the federal capital, the ruling alliance candidates won two seats.

PML-N leader and Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar clinched the technocrat seat, while PPP candidate Mahmood ul Hassan was elected to the upper house of parliament after winning general seat.

Earlier, lawmakers in all three legislatures were given time to cast their vote from 9am till 4pm.

Interestingly, the polls were scheduled to be held in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly but they were postponed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) after the opposition members filed a plea seeking postponement due to a stand-off with the provincial government over oath-taking of MPAs-elect on the reserved seats.

The polling was not held in the Balochistan Assembly as all the 11 candidates on the vacant seats were elected unopposed.

The polling was scheduled to be conducted to elect 48 senators, initially, 11 each from KP and Balochistan, 12 each from Punjab and Sindh and two from Islamabad.

However, after the unopposed election of 18 senators from Punjab and Balochistan and the postponement of polls in KP, the elections were held for 19 vacant seats.

'Electoral college incomplete'

In its notification, the ECP stated that polls for the Senate seats of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will not be held until the administration of oath to the elected members against the reserved seats.

“The Commission in exercise of powers under Article 218(3) of the Constitution read with Section 4(1), Section 8(c) and Section 128 of the Elections Act, 2017 and all other enabling provisions of the Constitution and law in this behalf, postpones the poll to the Senate Election to the extent of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa till the administration of oath to the elected members against the reserved seats and accordingly makes necessary amendment in the notification issued under Section 107 of the Act. Office is directed to take follow up action,” the notification read.

The document further maintained that the KP Assembly speaker was approached by the notified members for the reserved seats for administration of oath to them, however, “no arrangement for oath was made”.

“AND WHEREAS, the Returning Officer for Senate Election to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has informed vide letter No. F.1(26/2024-Els (PEC) dated 2” April 2024 along with written request of the elected and notified members of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly against the reserved seats that the Speaker Provincial Assembly has not arranged oath.”

The commission further stated that the standards of honesty, justness and fairness of election as provided in Article 218(3) of the Constitution cannot be fulfilled due to non-administration of oath to elected members and which amounts to disenfranchisement of lawful voters and denial of level playing field to the voters.

“Thus, the Electoral College is incomplete for the purpose of Senate elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province,” the notification read.

Senate polls challenged in KP

Before the ECP issued its notification regarding the postponement, the opposition members submitted an application to the provincial election commissioner for postponing the Senate elections.

Arrangements for polls were complete in the KP assembly with the Commission's staff present to conduct polls.

However, Pakistan Peoples Party's (PPP) Ahmad Karim Kundi, in the plea, said 25 of his party's members have not yet been sworn in and requested that the polls be postponed.

Upon the Opposition's request, the provincial election commissioner has contacted Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja in this regard, sources told Geo News.

Instead of complying with the Peshawar High Court’s (PHC) recent order to administer the oath to the legislators-elect, KP Speaker Babar Saleem Swati filed a review petition with the court on the eve of the polling.

"All arrangements are in place to hold the electoral process. Regarding the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Election Commission will closely watch the related developments today prior to deciding the future course of action," a senior official at the ECP, when approached over the telephone, told The News.

He pointed out that the electoral body stood by its order of delaying polling to fill the Senate’s vacant seats in KP if the oath was not administered to the MPAs-elect as per the PHC order.

The official agreed that this was the first time that the commission was facing such a crisis-like situation, insisting the ECP would stick to the Constitution and the election laws.

'Polls to remain postponed until oath administered'

Commenting on the development, former ECP secretary Kanwar Muhammad Dilshad said that the electoral body postponed the Senate elections in KP under Articles 17, 218 (3) of the Constitutions and Election Act Sections 4 and 8.

Dilshad added that the electoral authority postponed the polls because the house was not complete. He added that "holding Senate elections by ignoring 30 seats is against the Constitution".

"The ECP will keep the Senate elections postponed until the KP Assembly administers oath to the MNAs-elect," said Dilshad while speaking to Geo News.

He added that the Senate chairman and deputy chairman cannot be elected until and unless KP Assembly conducts elections. "The Senate will remain functional and can legislate as well," said Dilshad, adding that the chairman can also elect a presiding officer as the Senate chairman in his place.

However, he added, the election of chairman won't be held until KP Assembly conducts Senate polls.