100 queue up for 49 Senate slots as election fever overtakes political landscape

In Lahore, PTI's Aon Abbas and Malik Zaheer Abbas submitted their application for candidacy in the polls today

Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Sunday said that at least 100 candidates submitted their nomination papers so far with Returning Officers (ROs) for contesting the election on Senate vacant seats to be held on March 3.

In Peshawar, Pakistan People’s Party’s (PPP) candidate Shazia Tehmas and the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Dost Muhammad Mehsud filed their nomination papers.

Similarly, in Lahore, PTI’s Aon Abbas and Malik Zaheer Abbas submitted their application for candidacy in the polls.

According to officials, 17 candidates have filed their nomination papers from Punjab, 22 from Sindh, 30 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), 25 from Balochistan and six from Islamabad.

As many as 23 nomination papers have been submitted for Women seats while eight for Non-Muslim and 18 nomination papers have been submitted for Technocrats and Ulema seats besides 51 for General seats.

He said that the commission had already extended the date for filing nomination papers for senate election from February 13 to February 15 on written and verbal requests from various forums to facilitate the candidates.

He said that the ECP had appointed five Returning Officers for Islamabad and four provinces while the candidates could file their nomination papers on Saturday also with ROs.

He said that the polling will be held on March 3 on 48 seats, two in Islamabad, 11 each in Punjab and Sindh, and 12 each in KP and Balochistan that will fall vacant on the expiration of the term of the members.

He added that the polling would be held from 0900 hours to 1700 hours simultaneously in Parliament House, Islamabad, and provincial assembly buildings in Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

It is pertinent here to mention that the Election Commission of Pakistan has extended the date for submission of nomination papers for the Senate elections till Monday.

According to a press statement, the date has been extended to facilitate the candidates.

As per the revised schedule, the list of contesting candidates will now be published on Tuesday (February 16).

The scrutiny of the nomination papers will take place on February 17 and 18, followed by the filing of appeals against any acceptance or rejection of nominations which will be done by February 20.

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the commission will scrutinise the credentials of the candidates through an online process.

The documents submitted by the candidates would be verified by the Ministry of Interior, National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), and National Accountability Bureau (NAB). The financial documents provided by the prospective candidates would also be checked by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).

An election tribunal will dispose of all appeals by February 23. And finally, the ECP will publish a revised list of nominated candidates on February 24.

Any notified candidates wishing to withdraw their candidacy will be able to do so before February 25.

A total of 52 senators in the House of 104 are set to retire on March 11 on completion of their six-year term. The number includes four of the eight senators from the former Federally Adminis­tered Tribal Areas (FATA).

As the seats representing FATA will not be filled due to the merger of the tribal areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) in May 2018, the Senate strength will shrink to 100.

Polling will, therefore, be held to elect 48 members: 12 each from KP and Balochistan, 11 each from Punjab and Sindh, and two from Islamabad.

The legislators will also vote to elect seven members on general seats including two women and two technocrats in the four provinces. Besides, the election on one minority seat each in KP and Balochistan will also be conducted.

More than 65 per cent of the senators due to retire belong to the opposition parties.

Mian Abrar
Mian Abrar
The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions. He tweets as @mian_abrar and also can be reached at [email protected]
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