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PTI Seeks to Delay Election of Senate Chairman

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The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has requested the delay of the election of the Senate chairman and deputy chairman, which are scheduled for the following day, until after polls were held on vacant seats from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In response, five PTI senators filed a plea in the Islamabad High Court and wrote a letter to the Senate secretary. Despite objections from the registrar’s office, the IHC heard the plea and asked for a response from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Elections for 30 vacant Senate seats were scheduled to be held on April 2. However, the ECP had delayed polls on 11 seats from KP following a controversy over the oath-taking of opposition lawmakers on reserved seats. Polls still went ahead on 19 seats, which saw the ruling coalition clinching all. The clean sweep put the ruling alliance in a comfortable position to get any legislation passed from both houses of Parliament. President Asif Ali Zardari summoned a fresh session of the Senate on April 9.

Zarqa Suharwardy Taimur, Falak Naz, Fawzia Arshad, Saifullah Sarwar Khan Niazi, and Saifullah Abro named the ECP, the president, and the Senate secretariat as the respondents. The IHC registrar’s office raised an objection on the petition, as the Peshawar High Court (PHC) was hearing a case pertaining to the polls on vacant Senate seats from KP. Despite this, IHC Chief Justice (CJ) Aamer Farooq took up the case and presided over the hearing while lawyer Shoaib Shaheen represented the petitioners.

The PTI senators have challenged the election of chairman and deputy chairman of Senate, which was going to be held on April 9, since the ECP postponed polls in KP without senators from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Shaheen urged the court to postpone the polls to the top slots until vacant seats were filled in KP. Reserving the verdict in the case, Justice Farooq remarked that it had to be seen whether the elections could even be stopped or not. Later, the court issued notices to the electoral watchdog and sought its response.

The same five senators submitted a letter to the Senate secretary, which also requested to postpone the elections for the chairman and deputy chairman. The letter called for not initiating the process for elections to the top slots until the total number in the upper house of Parliament reached 96 and polls were held in KP. It requested that the elections of the Senate chairman and deputy chairman be postponed until after polls were held in KP. The letter concluded by stating that the responsibility of upholding the Constitution lies with the Senate secretary.

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