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ISLAMABAD: Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) has contended that the PTI-backed candidates, who joined it after winning the general elections on the respective seats, exercised their legal right to do so, as the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has reserved its verdict in the case involving the allocation of the seats reserved for women and minorities to SIC in the Assemblies.

Representing the SIC in the related case on Wednesday, Barrister Ali Zafar told a five-member ECP bench that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had expressed its apprehension in the Supreme Court that denial of electoral symbol to it would also deny the political party of reserved seats in the Assemblies after the general elections.

However, he said, the ECP lawyer had assured the apex court during the hearing of the related case involving PTI intra-party elections that such a situation would not arise. “But this situation has arisen and PTI has been deprived of its electoral symbol, as well as, reserved seats in assemblies,” he said.

Zafar said PTI is a political party registered with ECP. “If PTI gets its electoral symbol, then it can contest the general elections. SIC is also registered with ECP as a political party, and it has its electoral symbol which makes it eligible for general elections and reserved seats allocation,” he said.

The SIC counsel said the PTI-backed candidates, who joined the SIC after the general elections, exercised their legal right in accordance with the relevant provisions of the election laws.

He said 86 PTI-backed general poll winners joined SIC in National Assembly, 107 in Punjab Assembly, 90 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly and nine in Sindh Assembly.

The SIC deserves to be allocated reserved seats in accordance with its seats in these assemblies, he said.

Kamran Murtaza from Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazal (JUI-F) told the ECP bench that every political party should be allocated reserved seats it duly deserved— in accordance with its seats in the assemblies, adding that those winning candidates, who did not join any political party, and retained their independent positions in the assemblies, could not be allocated reserved seats.

Farooq Naek from Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) said the SIC did not submit any list for reserved seats ahead of the general elections, and, therefore, it could not be allotted reserved seats.

Azam Tarar from Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) said the SIC did not contest the general elections. “A political party that did not contest the general elections cannot be allotted reserved seats,” he opined.

Farogh Naseem from Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P) opposed the allocation of reserved seats to SIC on the grounds that it was not a parliamentary party.

After hearing the arguments from the representatives of different political parties, the ECP bench reserved its verdict.

Meanwhile, a letter from Chairman SIC Sahibzada Hamid Raza, in reply to an ECP letter, has surfaced in which the SIC has informed the electoral body that SIC did not submit the list of women candidates to the Commission since no candidate contested the general elections on SIC symbol.

The chairman SIC clarified that the letter was about five percent representation of women on general seats in the general elections, as required under Section 206 of the Elections Act 2017, which, he said, has nothing to do with the allocation of reserved seats.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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