By: Zulfiqar Ali Bhatti
A total of 143 nomination papers were filed on Thursday for the upcoming Senate elections.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) wrote to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), State bank of Pakistan, Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) and other government departments concerned to extend cooperation during scrutiny of the documents.
Prominent among those who have filed nominations included outgoing Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani, JUI-Sami’s Maulana Samiul Haq, who has filed his nomination papers as an independent candidate from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and enjoys complete support of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). Taj Haider, Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah and Muhammad Talha Mehmood are among those expected to stage comeback.
The PTI has announced to challenge the nomination papers of PML-N’s Muhammad Ishaq Dar and some other candidates as well. The PPP has fielded minority candidate Krishna Kohli from Thar for a general seat from Sindh.
Of the 104-member House, 52 are set to retire on March 11 while polling for the same will be held on March 3. February 8 was the last date for filing of nomination papers, after which the scrutiny of nomination papers will be conducted. The aspirants of the Senate seat are at liberty to withdraw their nomination papers until February 19.
Maximum 47 nomination papers were filed from Sindh, followed by 34 from Punjab and as many from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 28 from Balochistan.
Of 34 from Punjab, of which 21 forms were submitted for general seats, five for reserved seats for women, five for technocrat seats, and three for reserved seats for minorities. A total of 47 nomination forms were submitted from Sindh, out of which 23 were for general seats, 11 for reserved seats for technocrats, nine for women and four for reserved seats for minorities.
From Balochistan, a total of 28 nomination forms were submitted. Out of the total, 15 forms were submitted for general seats, seven for reserved seats for technocrats, and six for women-specific seats.
From Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, total 34 nomination forms were submitted, 20 forms were submitted for general seats, six for reserved seats for technocrats and eight for reserved seats for women.
The ECP has dispatched (voter) lists of the incumbent members of the National Assembly and four provincial assemblies to the respective returning officers, barring nine MPAs, whose membership remains suspended for not filing their statements of assets and liabilities to the Election Commission.
Under the Elections Act, 2017, these lists were sent to the returning officers, excluding names of MPA M Ismail Rahu, PS-59, Makhdoom Khaliq-uz-Zaman, PS-62, Saniya PS-109, M Kamran PS-111, Rukhsana Parveen, Bilqees Mukhtar and Irum Azeem Farooqui (lawmakers on reserved seats), Sardar Muhammad Jamal Leghari, PP-245 and Abdul Majeed Niazi, PP-262.
According to the schedule for the election for the federal capital’s two Senate seats, the nomination papers can be submitted by February 10 while their scrutiny will be conducted on February 13. Appeals against the returning officers decision can be filed till February 16 after which a final list of candidates will be published. The schedule for Islamabad was issued separately as the same was withheld owing to some legal hitches.
February 12 is the last date for filing nomination papers for the four Senate seats from Fata. A list of final candidates will be published on Feb 13 whereas scrutiny of nomination papers will be conducted by the returning officer on Feb 15. Appeals against acceptance or rejection of the nomination papers will be heard on Feb 17, the decisions on the appeals will be announced on Feb 20 while Feb 21 will be the last date for the withdrawal of the candidature.
The Senate consists of a total of 104 members: 23 each from the four provinces, eight from Fata and four from Islamabad Capital Territory. The 23 seats of each province break-up is: 14 general seats, four each for women and technocrats and one for minorities.
PTI has decided to challenge nomination papers of Islaq Dar and other candidates of PML-N who do not meet the qualification for the Senate elections. A PTI spokesperson has stated that Imran Khan has given the responsibility to PTI senior leader Chaudhary Muhammad Sarwar and Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembly Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed in this regard.
Fawad Chaudhary said that PTI maintained that Ishaq Dar was involved in money laundering. He added that it was shameful to learn that Ishaq Dar, absconding from courts in graft cases, would come to Pakistan to contest the Senate elections.
“PML-N leadership should be ashamed of itself for nominating plunderers like Ishaq Dar for the Senate elections,” he charged. PTI has nominated Ejaz Chaudhary for technocrat seat from Islamabad in upcoming Senate elections. He hails from Punjab.