ECP merges SIC reserve seats petitions, defers hearing until Wednesday

ECP merges SIC reserve seats petitions, defers hearing until Wednesday

Islamabad (Web Desk): The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday combined all petitions related to minority and women reserve seats of Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) and postponed the hearing until Wednesday.

A four-member panel, headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja and including members Nisar Ahmed Durrani, Shah Muhammad Jatoi, Babar Hassan Bharwana, and Justice (R) Ikram Ullah Khan heard the petition.

Barrister Farough Naseem represented Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leader Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui while Barrister Ali Zafar represented the SIC, stating they were there to secure their allocated seat.

Azam Nazir Tarar from Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and Farooq H. Naik from Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) asserted that they were representing their respective political parties.

They emphasized that it is up to the commission to determine whether the SIC can secure reserve seat or not.

During the hearing, Barrister Ali Zafar emphasized that his party’s reserved seat cannot be claimed by anyone else, highlighting that the SIC has already submitted a petition to the ECP for the allocation of reserved seats.

Barrister Gohar urged the bench to allocate reserved seats to the SIC.

The CEC mentioned that the ECP has scheduled the applications for a hearing, and asked Ali Zafar, if he is a party to all of these cases.

Azam Nazir Tarar countered by asking how independent members affiliated with the SIC, which failed to win even a single seat, could be granted reserve seats.

He argued that these members, originating from a party rejected by the electorate, did not initially apply for reserved seats. Furthermore, given that the SIC is not recognized as a parliamentary party, he questioned their entitlement to reserved seats.

The CEC advised them to leave the matter of reserve seats to the ECP for decision.

Barrister Ali Zafar stated that they have not yet received copies of the applications and requested the commission to provide them. He assured that they would submit their response today.

Farooq H. Naik urged the ECP to convene and hear from all parties involved.

Barrister Gohar said that their opponents did not win a seat in Lahore and are asking for SIC seat. 

Azam Nazir Tarar responded to Barrister Gohar, suggesting that they should reserve these comments for private discussion, media outside the commission premises.

Later speaking to newsmen, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Barrister Gohar Ali Khan said that the meeting of the National Assembly (NA) will be illegal until a decision is taken on reserve seats.

Barrister Gohar said that no assembly session can be held until the reserved seats are decided. He hoped that the decision of the ECP will be based on justice.

Barrister Gohar Ali Khan said that 86 MNAs-elect have joined the SIC, and the council has forwarded 4 applications to the ECP.

He expressed the hope that a decision to allocate minority and women reserve will be reached by Wednesday.

Barrister Gohar disclosed that 90-MPAs elect in KP and 7 elected MPAs in Balochistan have joined the SIC, while 107 elected MPAs in Punjab have also pledged their support to the council.