The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday announced by-elections on March 16 for 33 National Assembly (NA) seats.

The seats were vacated after NA Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf swiftly moved to accept the resignations of PTI lawmakers and AML chief Sheikh Rashid, pending since April 2022, in an apparent bid to scuttle the opposition’s purported plan to bring a confidence motion agai­nst Prime Minister Shehbaz Sha­rif.

According to a notification issued by the electoral watchdog today, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the by-polls will be held in the following constituencies:

  • NA-04 Swat-III
  • NA-17 Haripur-I
  • NA-18 Swabi-I
  • NA-25 Nowshera-I
  • NA-26 Nowshera-II
  • NA-32 Kohat
  • NA-38 D I Khan-I
  • NA-43 Khyber-I
  • NA-52 Islamabad-I
  • NA-53 Islamabad-II
  • NA-54 Islamabad-III
  • NA-57 Rawalpindi-I
  • NA-59 Rawalpindi-III
  • NA-60 Rawalpindi-IV
  • NA-62 Rawalpindi-VI
  • NA-63 Rawalpindi-VII
  • NA-67 Jhelum-II
  • NA-97 Bhakkar-I
  • NA-126 Lahore-IV
  • NA-130 Lahore-VIII
  • NA-155 Multan-II
  • NA-156 Multan-III
  • NA-191 Dera Ghazi Khan-III
  • NA-241 Korangi Karachi-III
  • NA-242 Karachi East-I
  • NA-243 Karachi East-II
  • NA-244 Karachi East-III
  • NA-247 Karachi South-II
  • NA-250 Karachi West-III
  • NA-252 Karachi West-V
  • NA-254 Karachi Central-II
  • NA-256 Karachi Central-IV
  • NA-265 Quetta-II

The notification said that the returning officers (RO) would issue a public notice in this regard on Feb 3. Candidates can file their nomination papers with the RO from Feb 6-8.

The names of the nominated candidates will be published on Feb 9, the electoral watchdog added.

PTI resignations

PTI lawmakers had resigned en masse from the lower house of parliament following the ouster of PTI chief Imran Khan in April last year.

NA Speaker Ashraf on July 28, 2022, accepted the resignations of only 11 PTI lawmakers.

The PTI had challenged the “piecemeal acceptance” in the Islamabad High Court (IHC), contesting that it was “unsustainable”. The IHC, however, had dismissed the petition on Sept 6, 2022.

The party then approached the Supreme Court, praying it to set aside the IHC order, terming it “vague, cursory, and against the law”. A decision on the PTI’s plea in the apex court is still pending.

Ashraf told a PTI delegation on Dec 29, 2022, that the party’s lawmakers would be summoned individually for verification of their resignations as the latter insisted on them being accepted in one go.

But after stalling the process for eight months, the NA speaker accepted the resignations of 34 PTI MNAs on Jan 17 and 35 MNAs on Jan 20, including Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid, as the party hinted it would “test” Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif with a confidence vote.

On Jan 25, the ECP de-notified 43 more PTI lawmakers after Ashraf accepted their resignations.

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