SIC chief rebukes claims on refusal of reserved seats in letter to ECP

  • Clarifies letter was not exclusive to SIC as ECP routinely sends letters to parties after polls
  • Says letter has no mention of reserved seats and should be read on basis of Article 206 of Constitution

ISLAMABAD: Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) Chairman Sahibzada Hamid Raza on Wednesday rebuked claims that his party had refused taking reserved seats in a letter to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), asserting the letter sent to the ECP is being misconstrued.

Addressing the media in Islamabad on Wednesday, Raza clarified that the ECP routinely sends letters to all parties after general elections, specifying a five per cent quota for women in the distribution of tickets.

He emphasised that the letter in question was not exclusive to the SIC but addressed to all participating parties.

Hamid Raza’s statement coincides with ECP’s reservation of its verdict on petitions related to the allocation of reserved seats to the SIC.

The electoral watchdog was conducting a hearing on applications regarding the allocation of reserved seats to the SIC. This political party has become a haven for independent lawmakers aligned with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) after the PTI lost its electoral symbol in the lead-up to the February 8 elections.

During the hearing, Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja presented a letter from the SIC to the PTI counsel, stating that the party did not participate in the general elections and therefore did not desire the reserved seats.

PTI Chairman Barrister Gohar Ali Khan and lawyer Ali Zafar, along with Raza, appeared before the electoral watchdog for the hearing.

Zafar expressed ignorance about the letter, stating that the SIC had not informed PTI about any such decision. In response, CEC Raja questioned the insistence on the allotment of reserved seats if the SIC had expressed a lack of interest.

Hamid Raza continued that since his party did not participate in the elections, the SIC informed the ECP about its non-participation, and therefore, they had no list to allocate 5 per cent of tickets to women. He clarified that the SIC did not express a refusal for reserved seats, and their letter did not mention any such rejection.

“We have a letter, and there is no mention of reserved seats in this letter,” Raza maintained. “It should be read on the basis of Article 206 of the Constitution. My affidavit is also available, which says if we contest elections, we will take reserved seats.”

Raza concluded by asserting that his letter had been distorted and misinterpreted and left the decision on the matter to the ECP’s discretion. “It is the will of the Chief Election Commissioner to interpret it whichever way he deems fit,” he stated.

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