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Tuesday April 23, 2024

Situationer: Political crisis in KP deepens

The staff of the ECP that had come to conduct the election process left the assembly building along with the polling material

By Javed Aziz Khan & Khalid Kheshgi
April 03, 2024
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly in Peshawar. — pakp.gov.pk/File
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly in Peshawar. — pakp.gov.pk/File

PESHAWAR: The political crisis in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa deepened on Tuesday as the election in the provincial assembly for 11 Senate seats was postponed over the issue of oath-taking to MPAs notified on the reserved seats.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) postponed the Senate elections as Assembly Speaker Babar Saleem Swati did not comply with the Peshawar High Court (PHC) order to administer oath to 25 members elected on women and minority-reserved seats. The ruling party and the opposition in KP have been at the loggerheads for the last several days over the MPAs oath-taking issue.

The ECP issued the order for postponement of the Senate elections for KP for not administering oath to the members notified on the reserved seats.

The staff of the ECP that had come to conduct the election process left the assembly building along with the polling material.

The ECP had instructed the speaker of the provincial assembly to make arrangements for the oath-taking of members on reserved seats so that they could cast votes in the Senate elections.

But an order of the ECP on Tuesday said the returning officer for the Senate elections in KP was informed along with the written requests of MPAs notified on reserved seats that no arrangements had been made for the oath-taking when the members approached the speaker.

It added that the standard of honesty, justness and fairness of election cannot be fulfilled by avoiding oath to the members. “Polling for the Senate election has been postponed to the extent of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa till the oath is administered to the members on reserved seats,” stated an order by a five members bench of the ECP headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja.

Pakistan Peoples Party MPA Ahmad Karim Kundi had requested the ECP to postpone the Senate polls in KP Assembly as the speaker had not taken oath from 21 MPAs elected on seats reserved for women and four on minority seats.

Elections were scheduled for seven general, two technocrat and two women seats in the KP Assembly for which about 26 candidates from the treasury and opposition benches had submitted nomination papers.

Keeping in view the numerical strength of the ruling Sunni Ittehad Council in the KP Assembly, the PTI-backed candidates can easily win the maximum seats but the opposition, including Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz and PPP, have hope for winning more seats in case the members elected on reserved seats are allowed to cast votes.

A two-member bench of the Peshawar High Court had directed the assembly speaker to administer oath to 25 MPAs elected on reserved seats before April 2 Senate elections.

Assembly Speaker Babar Saleem Swati on Monday filed a review petition at the PHC. Political observers say the oath-taking of MPAs on reserved seats is expected to strengthen the opposition significantly in the House, which is why the ruling party is avoiding it. The ruling party was not given any share in these slots reserved for women and minorities and only members from the opposition parties were notified.