ISLAMABAD: The Elec­tion Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday finally announced the schedule for Senate elections on seats from the Federally Adminis­tered Tribal Areas (Fata).

This was the third schedule for Senate elections issued by the ECP in less than a week. The schedule for Senate polls for the four provinces was announced on Feb 2, but the same for the seats from the federal capital and Fata was withheld due to some procedural hitches.

The reason for withholding the schedule for four out of eight seats from Fata and two out of four from Islamabad was the failure of the Presidency to extend the Elections Act 2017 to Fata through an order and determine the manner in which polling is to be held for seats from Islamabad and Fata, under Article 59 of the Constitution.

Later, the schedule for seats from Islamabad was ann­ounc­ed on Feb 4 and the announcement of the schedule for Fata seats now makes it sure that polling for all 52 Senate seats will take place on March 3.

Under the schedule for Senate polls on Fata seats, the returning officer will issue a public notice inviting nomination papers on Feb 7 (today), while Feb 12 has been set as the last date for filing nomination papers. A list of nominated candidates will be published on Feb 13 and Feb 15 will be the last date for scrutiny of nomination papers. Feb 17 has been fixed as the last date for filing appeals against acceptance or rejection of nomination papers, which will be disposed of by the tribunal by Feb 19. Feb 21 will be the last date for withdrawal of candidature.

In a related development, the ECP also issued the schedule for election on a Senate seat from Punjab vacated due to disqualification of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Senator Nihal Hashmi on contempt of court charges. The election will take place on March 1 — two days prior to the election on 52 Senate seats.

Published in Dawn, February 7th, 2018