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Friday, April 19, 2024  
09 Shawwal 1445  

ECP adjourns SIC’s plea for reserved seats

Country’s top electoral authority has stopped issuing notifications for 23 reserved seats
PTI lawyer Gohar Khan, along with SIC head Sahibzada Hamid Raza, speaks to reporters outside the ECP Offfice in Islamabad on February 27, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News
PTI lawyer Gohar Khan, along with SIC head Sahibzada Hamid Raza, speaks to reporters outside the ECP Offfice in Islamabad on February 27, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News
Barrister Gohar outside the ECP in Islamabad. Screengrab
Barrister Gohar outside the ECP in Islamabad. Screengrab

A five-member Election Commission of Pakistan adjourned on Tuesday the Sunni Ittehad Council’s (SIC) plea seeking allocation of the reserved seats in the national and provincial assemblies till Wednesday.

The country’s top electoral authority has stopped issuance of notification for 23 reserved seats which apparently has become a bone of contention between the government and President Arif Alvi.

Alvi, who belongs to the PTI, rejected the summary for summoning the National Assembly session, citing the august house as “incomplete” because of the pending notification.

The ECP bench conducted an open hearing on the application. It had sent a notice to the SIC, which has now a large number of independent candidates backed by the PTI after the elections.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the commission held on Monday. The petition was filed by convener MQM-P, against the proposed allocation of seats to the SIC.

Last week, Moulvi Iqbal Haider also filed a petition, seeking to ‘restrain the SIC being treated as a parliamentary party’. This petition along with other related petitions is also being taken up for hearing today.

A while ago, SIC head Sahibzada Hamid Raza arrived at the ECP Office in Islamabad. Barrister Gohar Khan and Babar Awan from the PTI and Farooq H Naek and Jahangir have also arrived at the office. PML-N’s Capt (retd) Safdar, Attaullah Tarar, and Azam Nazeer Tarar are also at the commission.

Hearing

At the outset of the hearing, SIC lawyer Ali Zafar informed the bench that they were in the commission for seeking their reserved seats and added that other political parties should explicitly speak if they want them.

He stated that the PPP, MQM-P, and N-league should appear before the court to make claims on reserved seats.

A member of the commission said that MQM-P Convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui has appeared before the bench and demanded that such seats should not be given to the SIC.

Lawyer Farooq H Naek said that they appeared before the bench.

Zafar said that they were unaware of the abovementioned political parties’ demand, adding that the SIC deserved the reserved seats according to the Constitution.

Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja said that the bench would hear every party in the case.

Zafar reiterated that as per the law and Constitution, the SIC should get reserved seats.

PML-N’s Azam Nazeer Tarar contended that the SIC did not manage to win a single National Assembly seat and the people “rejected” the religio-political party in the election.

Later the bench adjourned the hearing for a day.

Demand for reserved seats

The ECP has announced its decision on the allotment of reserved seats in the National Assembly, except those for the SIC. But the commission has not allotted the 23 reserved seats, expected to be given to the SIC, to any other political party.

According to the party position, the six-party ruling alliance does not have a two-thirds majority to bring any constitutional amendment. But if the ECP allotted the reserved seats due for the SIC to other political parties then the ruling alliance will have the desired number in the National Assembly.

The SIC approached the ECP on February 21 seeking the allotment of reserved seats.

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