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ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Wednesday announced that it will issue Senate elections’ schedule on Thursday (Feb 11) as the electoral body has started the issuance of nomination forms, at the ECP headquarters and provincial offices, for Senate polls.

The nomination forms for the respective Senate seats can be obtained from Provincial Election Commissions (PECs) in all the four provinces and ECP headquarters, the commission said.

Although, the commission has not announced any date for Senate polls, it is expected that the Senate elections would be held either in the last week of this month or earlier next month.

In December last year, the ECP announced holding by-elections on seven legislative seats on February 16 and February 19 in order to complete electoral college for Senate polls. This apparently indicates that Senate polls would not be held before February 19.

On February 16, by-elections are scheduled on Sindh Assembly’s two seats; PS-43 Sanghar-III and PS-88 Malir-II and Balochistan Assembly’s seat; PB-20 Pishin-III.

On February 19, by-polls are scheduled on National Assembly’s two seats; NA-45 Kurram-I and NA-75 Sialkot-IV, Punjab Assembly’s seat; PP-51 Gujranwala-I and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly’s seat PK-63 Nowshera-III.

In December last year, federal government said it wanted ‘early’ Senate elections. This attracted strong criticism from opposition parties that were of the view that ECP, not federal government, was empowered to hold Senate polls.

In the backdrop of this controversy, ECP finally issued a statement in December which said “Last four or five Senate elections were held in the first week of March. The ECP would announce at an appropriate time the date for Senate elections in the form of elections’ schedule, as per law and Constitution.”

In terms of early elections, Senate polls are constitutionally possible anytime between February 10 - March 11 this year as per Article 224(3) and keeping in view the term of 52 or half of the senators expires on March 11 this year.

Article 224(3) reads, “An election to fill the seats in the Senate which are to become vacant on the expiration of the term of the members of the Senate shall be held not earlier than thirty days immediately preceding the day on which the vacancies are due to occur.”

The Senate polls can also take place 30 days within the expiry of the senators’ term in accordance with Article 224 (5). This indicates that the cut-off date for Senate elections is April 10, 2021.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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