PESHAWAR: As independent candidates fielded by Pakistan Tekreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has won most of the national and provincial assembly seats in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, it has bleak chances of getting any share in the seats reserved for women and non-Muslims in the province due to some legal bars.

There are 26 seats reserved for women and four for non-Muslims in KP Assembly, whereas 10 seats are reserved for women in the National Assembly from this province.

These seats have to be filled on basis of proportional representation of seats won by a political party in the national and provincial assembly.

Last month, Election Commission of Pakistan had released names of 121 validly nominated candidates of different political parties sans PTI for the seats reserved for women and non-Muslims in the province.

As Supreme Court had upheld the decision of ECP of stripping the PTI of its electoral symbol, the names of its candidates had not been included in the lists of eligible candidates.

Under the law, no independent candidate can contest against the seats reserved for women and non-Muslims and it is a pre-condition that the names of those submitting nomination papers must be available in priority lists submitted by the political parties.

Senior lawyer Ali Gohar Durrani said that under Article 51 (5) (d) of Constitution the members to the seats reserved for women in National Assembly, allocated to a province, should be elected through proportional representation system of political parties’ lists of candidates on the basis of total number of general seats secured by each political party from the province concerned.

He added that for the said purpose the total number of general seats won by a party should include the independent returned candidates who may duly join a political party within three days of the publication in the official gazette of the names of the returned candidates.

He added that identical mechanism applied to reserved seats in the KP Assembly.

“An option with the PTI, for securing its share in the reserved seat, is to join a smaller registered political party within three days of publication of result in the official gazette,” Mr Durrani said adding that the flaw in that move would be that these PTI independent members-elect would be then under the discipline of the said party.

When questioned what would be the situation if these independent members announced joining the PTI, he said that in his opinion it won’t benefit them in getting its share of the reserved seats as the party had been without a symbol.

It is pertinent to mention that after the general elections in erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) for KP Assembly in 2019, three independent candidates had announced to join Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) after which one of the seats reserved for women in those polls was assigned to it.

Following the 2018 general elections, the PTI had secured 16 of the 22 seats reserved for women in KP Assembly, and seven of the nine seats reserved for women in NA.

Following scrutiny of nomination papers, last month ECP here had issued three Form 32 of validly nominated candidates including names of 27 candidates against seats reserved for women in National Assembly from KP; 70 candidates against 26 seats reserved for women in KP Assembly; and, 24 candidates against four seats reserved for non-Muslims.

The candidates belonged to different political parties except the PTI including Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Pakistan (Fazl), Awami National Party, Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Jamaat-i-Islami Pakistan, PTI-Parliamentarians, etc.

Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2024

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