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QUETTA: The Baloch­istan Assembly on Saturday adopted a resolution deman­ding an increase in the number of seats in national and provincial assemblies and review of delimitation of constituencies by the Elec­tion Commission of Pakistan.

The resolution, which was jointly moved by the provincial ministers and opposition members in the house, reads that despite an increase in Balochistan population that reached 12.3 million according to last year’s census, the ECP increased only three National Assembly (NA) seats of the province while it did not increase the number of provincial assembly constituencies at all.

It demanded that the NA seats be increased district wise and at least 20 more provincial assembly seats be added to the current size of 65-member Balochistan Assembly.

Speaker Raheela Hameed Khan Durrani, who was presiding over the session, constituted a committee comprising parliamentary leaders of the political parties to approach all elected members of the parliament to ensure the resolution passed by the Balochistan Assembly was implemented.

Joint resolution adopted asking ECP to review delimitation of constituencies

She asked the Balochistan election commissioner to remove the apprehensions of the public representatives regarding new delimitations. It was decided that the provincial election commissioner be asked to come to the house and brief the legislators about the delimitation process.

While speaking on the resolution, Balochistan Minister for Communication Mir Asim Kurd, who presented the resolution on behalf of treasury and opposition members, suggested to the ECP that each district of Balochistan be declared a separate NA constituency while Quetta district having more than two million population should be divided into five NA constituencies.

Opposition leader Abdul Rahim Ziaratwal said that some people sitting in Islamabad without consulting them and considering the map of Balochistan carried out proposed the new constituencies which were not acceptable to Balochistan. He said some constituencies were spread over around 1,000 square kilometres, making it difficult for candidates to visit all parts of their constituency during election campaign.

Mr Ziaratwal said all political parties had rejected the new delimitation.

Home Minister Mir Sarfaraz Ahmed Bugti said he along with some other members of the provincial assembly and Senate had taken up the issue with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi who then empowered the provincial lawmakers to evolve a formula for delimitation. However, Mr Ziaratwal and the then opposition leader, Maulana Abdul Wasey, did not support the move. They said let the federal government complete the exercise, he recalled.

Other lawmakers, including Sheikh Jaffar Khan Mandokhel, Rehmat Baloch, Nasarullah Zerey, Dr Hamid Achakzai, Dr Ruquyia Saeed Hashmi, Mir Mujeebur Raham Mohammad Hasni and Engineer Zamarak Khan Piralizai, also spoke on the resolution.

They said the problems of Balochistan people could not be solved at their doorsteps in case of big national and provincial assembly constituencies. Besides, they apprehended that this could pit different tribes against one another in the elections.

Published in Dawn, March 18th, 2018