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Saturday April 20, 2024

ECP notifies women on reserved seats

From Punjab, seven reserved seats for women have gone to the PMLN and one each to the PPP, IPP and PML

By Muhammad Saleh Zaafir & Mumtaz Alvi
February 24, 2024
A security personnel stands guard at the headquarters of Election Commission of Pakistan in Islamabad. — AFP/File
A security personnel stands guard at the headquarters of Election Commission of Pakistan in Islamabad. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: As the picture gets clear with regard to the party representation in the legislatures, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Friday notified the majority of returned candidates on the seats reserved for women.

Twenty winners out of a total of 32 National Assembly seats reserved for women from Punjab, all 14 winners from Sindh and four from Balochistan have been notified.

From Punjab, seven reserved seats for women have gone to the PMLN and one each to the PPP, IPP and PML.

The 20 winners from Punjab include Tahira Aurangzeb, Shaista Pervaiz, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Nuzhat Sadiq, Mussarat Asif Khawaja, Seema Mohiyuddin Jamali, Shaza Fatima Khawaja, Romina Khurshid Alam, Wajiha Qamar, Zeb Jaffar, Kiran Imran, Anusha Rehman, Zahra Wadood Fatemi, Asia Naz Tanoli, Saba Sadiq and Farah Naz Akbar of PMLN, PPP’s Hina Rabbani Khar made her way to the NA, while Munazza Hassan of IPP and Farakh Khan of the PML became the NA members.

From Sindh, the winners of National Assembly’s reserved seats for women are 10 from PPP and four from MQM.

The PPP MNAs include Shazia Jannat Marri, Nafisa Shah, Shagufta Jumani, Shahida Rehmani, Syeda Shehla Raza, and Mehtab Akbar Rashdi.

Additionally, Musarat Mehsar, Mahreen Razzaq Bhutto, Shazia Sobia, and Naz Baloch have also been declared MNAs for PPP.

Among the MQM members notified as MNAs are Nighat Shakeel Khan, Aasia Ishaque Siddiqui, Rana Ansar and Sabheen Ghouri.

Similarly, the four winners from Balochistan for NA include two from PMLN and one each from JUI-F and PPP. The Election Commission is yet to decide on reserved seats for women from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Likewise, out of a total of 10 reserved seats for non-Muslims, seven winners have been notified and they include four from PML-N, two from PPP and one from MQM.

The Election Commission notified the winners of 11 reserved seats for women and three seats for non-Muslims in the Balochistan Assembly. As per a notification, the PPP and PMLN secured three seats each for women, JUI-P got two seats, while ANP and NP secured one seat for each in the provincial assembly.

Asked why the notifications issued in relation to the reserved seats of women and non-Muslims, showed no seat was allotted to the Sunni Ittehad Council, which was joined by the PTI-backed independents, in order to get share of reserved seats, a senior ECP official said the matter was pending.

“In fact, the PTI-SIC related matter has been referred to the Commission’s law wing for opinion, and will be placed before the Commission most likely on Monday for a decision,” he explained.

In case, the SIC qualifies, it may be allotted seat (s) in the legislature. However, it all depends on the Commission’s meeting next week, he added.

The hunt of Sunni Ittehad Council for the reserved seats in the national and provincial assemblies is hectically underway as the process of oath-taking of the five houses began on Friday.

The spokesman for the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) told The News Friday evening that the SIC’s request had been referred to the legal wing for processing.

In case, the Commission accepts the request, the SIC’s numerical strength in all five houses would increase but without changing its minority status in the National Assembly and three provincial assemblies — Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan.

In another significant development, an important meeting of the ECP has been convened on February 26 (Monday) to take up the matter in light of the legal wing’s findings.

The sources reminded that the ECP was requested by the SIC to allocate the seats on the basis of inclusion of PTI-backed candidates in their party.

The formal request by the SIC Chairman Sahibzada Hamid Raza MNA-elect was submitted to the electoral watchdog through a PTI representative.

Earlier this week on Monday, the PTI announced that its candidates, who were elected as independent, would join the SIC to form governments at the Centre, in Punjab and KPK in a bid to secure reserved seats.

A meeting of the ECP was held to discuss the allocation of reserved seats to SIC, which remained inconclusive. The sources said the members deferred the matter without taking any decision. As per the articles of the Constitution, the reserved seats are allocated to the political parties on the basis of the number of their lawmakers elected on the general seats.

For their allocation, the ECP had already received the priority list of candidates from the parties before the Feb. 8 polls.

The situation this year is different from the previous elections, as the largest group of lawmakers is independents, who cannot have the reserved seats. There are a total of 346 reserved seats for women – 60 in the NA and 66, 29, 26, and 11 in the provincial legislatures of Punjab, Sindh, K-P, and Balochistan respectively.

Similarly, there are 10 reserved seats for minorities in the lower house. Besides, there are eight, nine and three reserved seats for minorities in the Punjab Sindh, and Balochistan assemblies.

The SIC, in its letter, stated that 86 independent candidates of the National Assembly had joined it, adding that 107 independents of Punjab Assembly, 90 of KP Assembly and nine independent members of Sindh Assembly had garnered the support of the SIC. The Commission made it clear on Friday evening that SIC had 81 members in the National Assembly. The SIC requested the polls supervisory body to allocate reserved seats in the national and provincial assemblies seats on these criteria.

The sources pointed out that in case a decision was not taken early next week, the rest of the seats could be divided among the parties, which have no issue about the reserved seats.

At the same time, the SIC has made it already clear that it would knock the doors of the apex court for soliciting its share in the reserved seats, if the ECP declined its submission.