ISLAMABAD: Despite an extension in the period for submission of nomination papers for coming Senate polls by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and official announcement of the names of all its candidates by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), no one from the party had filed papers from Sindh by Sunday, revealed ECP data.
With the filing of nomination papers by 22 more candidates on Sunday, the total number of candidates filing the papers reached 100. Monday (today) is the last day for the filing of nomination papers.
Amid reports of fissures within the party ranks, the PTI has already announced the list of its 20 candidates from the four provinces and Islamabad, which shows the party has awarded tickets to federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda for a general seat and Saifullah Abro for a technocrat seat. However, none of the two has so far filed the papers though the PTI is the second largest party in the Sindh Assembly.
Mr Vawda is presently a member of the National Assembly from Karachi West (NA-249) but a petition seeking his disqualification for hiding his dual nationality at the time of contesting the election in July 2018 is pending before the ECP.
Last week, the ECP had expressed displeasure over Mr Vawda’s absence from proceedings and imposed a fine of Rs50,000 on him for “repeatedly asking for postponements”.
The commission has now set Feb 24 as the next date of hearing, directing Mr Vawda to “personally” appear in the ECP on that date.
On Saturday, the PTI’s central parliamentary board, headed by Prime Minister Imran Khan, had withdrawn the party ticket awarded to business tycoon Abdul Qadir from Balochistan after strong opposition from the PTI provincial leadership and zonal heads.
Instead, the party high command nominated Zahoor Agha for the Senate election on a general seat.
Opposing the award of party ticket to Abdul Qadir, PTI’s provincial leadership had argued that he did not belong to the PTI as he had been a member of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) till last week.
Similar resentments are found in the PTI’s Islamabad chapter where the party activists and workers are unhappy over the leadership’s decision to give party ticket to federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh. A group of the PTI office-bearers and activists from Islamabad held a meeting on Wednesday and made their concern public by categorically announcing that they would not accept any “imported candidate” for the Senate seat reserved for Islamabad.
Talking to Dawn on Sunday, PTI deputy secretary general Amir Mughal, who had been vying for the party ticket, said they had no choice, but to accept the leadership’s decision, but they considered it “an unjust decision.” He said the decision was not in the interest of the party and the people of Islamabad. He said he would have no problem had the leadership issued ticket to any local person from Islamabad, other than him.
Unlike other political parties, the PTI had not invited applications from those aspiring for the party tickets and the candidates were finalised solely on the “recommendations” of members of the parliamentary board, comprising many party stalwarts like Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Shah Farman, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, federal Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar and Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood.
Meanwhile, Sitara Ayaz, who had become a senator in 2015 on the ticket of the Awami National Party (ANP) from KP and who is among 52 senators retiring on March 11, has again submitted her nomination papers, this time from Balochistan and on the ticket of the BAP.
The ANP leadership had expelled Ms Ayaz from the party for allegedly polling her vote in favour of Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani when the opposition parties had moved a no- confidence motion against him.
The data released by the ECP on Sunday shows that highest number of nomination papers have so far been filed from KP from where 30 candidates have submitted their nomination forms for 12 Senate seats from the province.
Out of the 100 candidates, there are only two independents and both are from KP.
So far 25 candidates have submitted nomination papers from Balochistan, 22 from Sindh, 17 from Punjab and six from Islamabad.
Out of them, 51 have filed papers for 29 general seats, 18 for eight seats reserved for technocrats, 23 for nine reserved seats for women, and eight are vying for two seats of minorities from Balochistan and KP.
According to the election schedule announced by the ECP, names of nominated candidates will be published on Feb 16 (tomorrow) and scrutiny of nomination papers will take place on 17 and 18. Appeals against acceptance or rejection of nomination papers will be filed on Feb 19 and 20 and decided on 22 and 23. A revised list of candidates will be published on Feb 24. Feb 25 has been set as the last date for withdrawal of candidature and the polling date is March 3.
The PTI is set to become the single largest party in the Senate after the coming elections. However, it will certainly not be able to gain control of the upper house of parliament and will have to rely on its allies and opposition parties even for carrying out simple legislation.
A careful calculation done on the basis of the party position in the National Assembly and the four provincial legislatures, which form the constituencies for the elections of senators, and if all the legislators vote in line with the policy of their parties, the PTI is expected to win 20 seats, followed by six seats each by the PPP and the BAP and five by the PML-N in the Senate elections.
Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2021