ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peo­ples Party leader Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani has submitted nomination papers to contest the Senate election and to regain his own seat from Islamabad that fell vacant following his victory as an MNA in the Feb 8 general elections.

Mr Gilani will be facing Chaudhry Ilyas Mehrban of the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) in a one-on-one Senate contest for which polling will be held in the National Assembly on March 14.

As the deadline set by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for submission of nomination papers ended on Sunday, a total of 19 other candidates from different political parties filed their papers for the five other Senate seats — three from Balochistan and two from Sindh — which have fallen vacant after the election of the members of the upper house of parliament to the National and provincial assemblies.

These seats have fallen vacant under Article 223 of the Cons­titution which clearly bars double membership. Under sub-section 4 of the Article, if a member of either house of the parliament or of a provincial assembly becomes a candidate for a second seat, which he may not hold concurrently with his first seat, then his first seat becomes vacant as soon as he is elected to the second seat.

Ex-PM being tipped as next chairman of upper house; no candidate from PML-N, MQM submits papers

Mr Gilani, who had taken oath as MNA on Feb 29 after winning the NA seat from Multan and voted for PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif during the election of the prime minister in the National Assembly on Sunday, is being tipped as the next Senate chairman as per the power-sharing formula agreed between the PPP and the PML-N.

Though there has been no official announcement that Mr Gilani is the candidate of the newly-formed eight-party ruling coalition for the top Senate office, the fact that no one from the PML-N submitted papers against him gives credence to such reports. The PML-N has clear majority in the National Assembly where polling will be held for the election on the Senate seat from Islamabad and, therefore, could have easily won the seat.

Chaudhry Ilyas Mehrban is an old PTI member and had earlier contested for the National Assembly seat from Islamabad in the 2013 elections, which he lost to PML-N’s Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry.

It is interesting to note that despite the announcement of the schedule for the election by the ECP, at least two ‘strangers’ attended the Senate session in violation of the clear constitutional provision.

They included Nisar Khuhro and Jam Mehtab Dahar, both from Pakistan Peoples Party, who had already been elected as members of the Sindh Assembly.

Names of both were on the list of six senators whose seats had fallen vacant. Others on the list include Yousaf Raza Gilani and Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri who won National Assembly seats, Sarfraz Bugti and Prince Ahmed Omar who won Balochistan Assembly seats.

Mr Bugti, who had taken the oath as caretaker interior minister in August, had resigned in December last year to contest election for the provincial assembly seat.

It is also a legal question as to why the office of Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani has not been declared vacant, following his election as member of the Balochistan Assembly. Constitutional experts say the law is very clear and the seat of a sitting member of the parliament automatically becomes vacant after his election to another assembly.

Seven from Sindh

As many as seven candidates submitted their papers to the provincial chief election commissioner in Karachi to contest the election on the two general seats of the Senate. Those who submitted the papers are Jam Saifullah Khan, Muhammad Aslam Abro, Waqar Mehdi and Mukhtar Ahmed Dhamra of the PPP and Nazeerullah, Shazia Sohail and Jameel Ahmed of the SIC.

Waqar Mehdi is presently a senator, but he is due to retire on March 11 after completing six-year term.

Candidates from Balochistan

Twelve candidates of different parties have filed their nomination papers for contesting election of three vacant Senate seats from Balochistan.

This time around, though, only 96 members will grace the chamber as the representation of the erstwhile tribal areas will end, following their merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa under the 25th Constitutional Amendment.

Former chief minister Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo of the PPP and Kahuda Babar of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) are among those who filed the papers. Other candidates are Mobeen Ahmed Khilji (BAP), Sardarzada Mir Harbayer Domki (PPP), Mir Dostain Domki (PML-N), Shakeel Ahmed Durrani (PPP), Tariq Masoori, Kashif Aziz, Syed Mehmood Shah (JUI-F), Abdul Shakoor Khan, Danish Hussian Langove and Mr Khan.

The total strength of the Senate has been 100, including 23 members each from the four federating units, and four each from erstwhile Fata and Islamabad. The 23 seats allocated to a province comprise 14 general seats, four reserved for women, four for technocrats and one for a minority member.

Half of the senators are due to retire on March 11 after completing their six-year term and after the by-elections on six vacant seats on March 14, the ECP will issue the schedule for the election of 48 new senators — 11 each from all the four provinces on general and technocrats seats, two from Islamabad and two minority members from Punjab and Sindh.

Saleem Shahid in Quetta also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, March 4th, 2024

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