ISLAMABAD: The Senate will remain dysfunctional for at least three weeks, as 52 lawmakers — over half the strength of the upper house of parliament — retired on Monday night.

The term of a senator is six years, but half of them retire every three years and elections are held to fill the vacancies. These elections normally take place days before the expiry of the senators’ term, but that could not happen this time around.

The unique situation came about due to the delay in holding general elections, in the absence of an electoral college caused by the failure of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold timely general elections.

According to the ECP, polling to fill 48 vacancies will be held on April 2 and the commission will issue the election schedule on Thursday.

Polling for 48 seats to be held on April 2

Elections will not be held on four seats that used to be reserved for the erstwhile tribal areas, as these have been abolished following their merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa under the 25th Amendment.

Seven general, two women’s and two technocrat / ulema seats from each province will be up for grabs, as well as two seats reserved for non-Muslims. In addition, two senators will be elected from Islamabad Capital Territory, one on a general seat and the other in the technocrat/ulema category.

Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani had al­ready ceased to hold off­ice on February 15, under a constitutional pr­o­vision, following his election as a member of the Balochistan Assembly.

The retiring senators also include Senate Deputy Chairman Mirza Mohammad Afridi, Leader of the House Ishaq Dar and Leader of Opposition Dr Shahzad Wasim.

Nomination papers with can be obtained from the Election Commission Secretariat Islamabad as well as the provincial elections commissioners of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. Candidates can submit their nomination papers to their respective returning officers on Friday and Saturday.

Of those set to retire, only seven belong to the PTI. In addition to the opposition leader, these include Azam Swati, Faisal Javed Khan and Walid Iqbal, among others.

The party, which first entered the Senate in 2015, became the single largest party in the upper house in March 2021 due to its numerical strength in the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies.

As many as 12 out of 21 PPP senators and 11 of 16 PML-N lawmakers in the upper house are also set to end their tenures.

From the PML-N, Ishaq Dar, Hafiz Abdul Kareem, Asif Kirmani, Rana Mehmoodul Hasan, Dr Musadik Malik, Shaheen Khalid, Nuzhat Sadiq, Kamran Michael, Asadullah Khan Junejo, Mushahid Hussain Syed and Sabir Shah retired on Monday.

PPP senators set to retire include Rukhsana Zuberi, Khaleda Sikandar, Imam Din Shauqeen, Maula Bakhsh Chandio, Mohammad Ali Shah, Raza Rabbani, Waqar Mehdi, Keshoo Bai, Quratulain Marri, Anwar Lal Deen, Rubina Khalid and Shamim Afridi. Bahramand Tangi, who was ejected by the party but remained a senator, also saw his term end on Monday.

JUI-F’s Talha Mehmood and Maulvi Faiz Muhammad, MQM-Pakistan’s Farogh Naseem, and Balochistan Awami Party’s Ahmed Khan, Kahuda Babar, Naseebullah Bazai and Sana Jamali have ended their tenure.

National Party’s Muhammad Akram and Tahir Bizenjo, lone Jamaat-i-Islami senator Mushtaq Ahmed and PML-Functional’s Muzaffar Hussain Shah have also called it a day.

From the Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, Sardar Shafiq Tareen and Abida Azeem are set to retire, while independents Dilawar Khan, Hilalur Rehman and Hidayatullah have ended their terms.

Published in Dawn, March 12th, 2024

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