Pak election commission to hold open hearing of Imran Khan’s party-backed SIC’s plea on reserved seats’ allocation


Islamabad: Pakistan’s election commission will hold an open hearing on a petition by jailed former prime minister Imran Khan’s party-backed Sunni Ittehad Council seeking the allocation of its share of reserved seats, a media report said on Tuesday.

Candidates of 71-year-old Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) fought as independents after the party could not directly participate in the February 8 elections due to the non-allotment of its iconic electoral symbol – the cricket bat.

To receive the PTI’s share of reserved seats for women and minorities in the national and provincial assemblies, the winning independent candidates backed by the party joined the rightwing Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) – an alliance of Islamic political and religious parties in the Muslim-majority country which represents followers of the school of Sunni Islam.

The Election Commission of Pakistan on Monday decided to hold an open hearing on the SIC’s plea seeking allocation of the reserved seats on Tuesday, the Dawn newspaper reported.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the top electoral body headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja.

The development came shortly after President Dr Arif Alvi rejected a move to summon the first session of the newly elected National Assembly on February 29.

Alvi rejected the summary from the caretaker parliamentary affairs ministry on Monday and maintained that all reserved seats be allocated before the summoning of the session in which newly-elected members of the National Assembly will take oath, Geo News quoted sources as saying.

After the denial by Alvi – a close aide of PTI founder Khan and a former senior member of his party – National Assembly outgoing Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf decided to convene the lower house of parliament session on February 29.

The ECP will also hold a hearing of a petition filed by convener MQM-P (Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan) against the proposed allocation of seats to the SIC.

The PTI-backed independents won majority seats at the National Assembly in the February 8 general election.

However, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) have agreed on a power-sharing deal to form a new coalition government, which may effectively end Khan’s chances of returning to power.

Khan’s party has rejected the attempts by the PMLN and the PPP to form a coalition government, warning that robbing its public endorsement by the “mandate thieves” will result in the worst political instability.

Independent candidates – a majority backed by the PTI party — won 93 National Assembly seats.

The PML-N won 75 seats, while the PPP came third with 54 seats. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P) has 17 seats.

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