ISLAMABAD: Even after the passage of more than a week, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is yet to notify the victory of most of the independent candidates who have won National Assembly (NA) seats in the general elections.

More than 101 independent candidates — most of them backed by PTI — have won NA seats, according to unofficial results. However, until Saturday evening, the ECP had notified the result of only eight of them and declared the victory of 33 more through a late-night notification.

The delay on part of the ECP to officially notify the results of a majority of the independent candidates has raised concerns among their voters and stakeholders amid political wrangling over numbers game for formation of government in the Centre.

While under the election rules, independent candidates have three days to join a political party after official notification of their victory, the ECP has so far notified results of 154 out of total 265 NA constituencies, where elections took place on Feb 8. They include 41 independents.

Rule 92(6) reads “For the purpose of this rule, the expression “total number of general seats won by political party” shall include the independent returned candidate or candidates who may duly join such political party within three days of the publication in the official gazette of the names of the returned candidates”.

A provision to the rule reads, “Provided that if the independent candidate applies to the leader of a political party for joining his party then the leader of that political party will forthwith inform the Commission of joining of such candidate through a letter to be delivered to the Commission along with consent of that candidate duly attested by a notary appointed under the Notaries Ordinance, 1961 (XIX of 1961) or an Oath Commissioner appointed under the Oaths Act, 1873 (X of 1873) or a government servant in basic pay scale 17 and above: Provided that the consent of the independent candidate so delivered to the Commission shall, in no circumstances, be open to recall or cancellation.”

Raja Khurram Nawaz from NA-48 (Islamabad) was the first independent to have been notified as returned candidate. His notification had been issued on Feb 12 — two days after he announced joining Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

The same day, the commission had notified the results of rest of the two NA constituencies from Islamabad declaring PML-candidates Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry and Anjum Aqeel Khan victorious, besides declaring Sadiq Iftikhar of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan a winner from NA-238 (Karachi).

Former Punjab Governor Mian Mohammad Azhar from NA-129 (Lahore) and Ghulam Mohammad from NA-93 (Chiniot) — both PTI-backed independent candidates — had been declared successful on Feb 13.

On the same day, the ECP also notified victory of PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif, his younger brother Shehbaz Sharif, daughter Maryam Nawaz and nephew Hamza Shehbaz Sharif, besides PML-N leader Attaullah Tarar and IPP’s Awn Saqlain — all from Lahore.

On Feb 14, the ECP notified victories of over two dozen contestants, including former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf from NA-52 (Rawalpindi) and former NA speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq from NA-120 (Lahore) and Noor Alam Khan, a frequent party changer from NA-28 (Peshawar). This time Noor Alam Khan was JUI-F candidate. None of those notified was an independent.

A day later, the ECP notified victories of PTI-backed independent candidate Adil Khan Bazai from NA-262 (Quetta), JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman from NA-265 (Pishin) and IPP leader Abdul Aleem Khan from NA-117 (Lahore).

On Feb 16, the victory notifications issued by the ECP included the one for an independent candidate from NA-54 (Rawalpindi) Aqeel Malik.

Three PTI-backed independents —Mohammad Ilyas Chaudhary from NA-62 (Gujrat), Osama Malik from NA-83 (Sargodha) and Nisar Ahmad from NA-100 (Faisalabad) — were notified on Saturday.

Late-night notification

Later, the ECP notified results of NA-1, NA-2, NA-3, NA-4, NA-6, NA-7, NA-9, NA-10, NA-12, NA-13, NA-14, NA-16, NA-17, NA-18, NA-19, NA-20, NA-21, NA-22, NA-23, NA-24, NA-25, NA-26, NA-29, NA-30, NA-31, NA-32, NA-33, NA-34, NA-35, NA-36, NA-37, NA-39, NA-41, NA-42 and NA-45. Thirty-three seats among these NA constituencies have been won by independents, according to an ECP notification. Three of these seats went to the MWM, PPP and PML-N each.

Under Section 98 of the Elections Act, 2017, after receiving final result from the returning officer, the commission, within 14 days from the polling day, shall publish the name of the winning candidate in the official gazette. The law, however, says “every retu­r­ned candidate shall, within 10 days from the poll of an election, submit a return of elect­ion expenses under section 134 and the commission shall not notify in the official Gazette the result of a returned candidate who fails to submit his return of election expenses”.

Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2024

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