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ISLAMABAD: The President of Pakistan is constitutionally mandated to summon the national assembly on the advice of the caretaker prime minister but once all elected members of the House have taken oath he can then invite the largest single party to prove its majority on the floor of the House.

This was stated by former chairman Senate Waseem Sajjad, a constitutional expert, to Business Recorder.

“The President cannot invite any political party which claims to have a majority except the one which proves its numerical strength on the floor of the House. Once a political party proves its majority on the floor of the House after general elections, the President can then invite that party to elect the leader of the House in National Assembly,” he added.

A senior official of the National Assembly’s legislation branch who wished not to be named said that there is no role of the President except to summon the National Assembly session on the summary sent to him by the caretaker prime minister for election of the new leader of the house/ prime minister.

He said that after two weeks of general elections, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will notify the newly elected members of the National Assembly, as well as, the seats reserved for women and minorities.

After the returned candidates are notified the elected independent candidates will be given three days to join a political party of their choice or declare their status as independents, which will be followed by the election of the leader of the house, he further noted.

The political parties are allocated 70 reserved seats — 60 for women, 10 for non-Muslims — in proportion to the number of seats won. This completes the National Assembly’s total 336 seats. Independents are not eligible for reserved seats, he added.

The official added that the candidate contesting for the slot of leader of the house will be required to secure 169 votes in the 336-member lower house of parliament.

He said that there can be multiple candidates for prime minister, adding if no candidate secures a majority in the first round, a second vote is held between the two candidates who succeeded in securing the most votes in the first round.

“The voting will continue until one person is able to secure majority,” he added.

The general elections last week returned a hung parliament, with no party getting enough seats in the National Assembly to form a government by itself.

At present PML-N has 79 seats (including the addition of six independents so far) and the PPP has 54; though the party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) decided it will not be part of the federal cabinet but vote for the PML-N candidate for the slot of the prime minister.

Contrary to the claims and expectations that PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari would be able to take many of the independents, no winning independent candidate has so far joined the PPP.

Although, around 100 of returned candidates are technically independent, only eight of them are unaffiliated-independents; the rest of the 92 are backed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), according to Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN).

Amid widespread rigging allegations during the general elections, a good number of the candidates belonging to different political parties have approached the courts and the provincial Election Commissioners.

When contacted, the ECP spokesman Hamid Raza Khan said that the exact number of the complaints is yet to be known, as he had requested the concerned provincial election commissioners to provide the details as soon as possible.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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