PTI finally decides to boycott polls on Senate’s top slots

Parliament House— Radio Pakistan/File
Parliament House— Radio Pakistan/File

After much deliberation and contradictory statements by parliamentarians of the former ruling party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) core committee on Monday announced ‘boycotting’ the Senate chairman and deputy chairman’s elections — slated to be held tomorrow (Tuesday).

Prior to this clarification, the former ruling party approached the Senate secretary with an application seeking deferment of the aforementioned polls. In its application, Senator Saifullah Niazi said that the actual number of Senate members was 96.

Currently, the upper house is short of 11 members as the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had postponed the KP Senate elections last week because of non-administration of oath to MPAs-elected on reserved seats.

It further stated that the elections should not be held until Senate polls in KP were held. A unit of the federation should not be stripped of representation by depriving KP to participate in the Senate chairman and deputy chairman’s polls, it added.

PTI senators’ contradictory statements

Interestingly ahead of the party’s core committee meeting, the PTI senators ruled out impression of boycotting the elections for the Upper House’s chairman and deputy chairman earlier in the day.

“We are not boycotting the Senate chairman and deputy chairman’s elections,” Senator Dr Zarqa Suharwardy Taimur clarified in a statement after the Imran Khan-founded party requested to defer the polls until the conduct of elections on vacant Upper House seats in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

The PTI will fully take part in the forthcoming polls and the party senators will finalise its strategy in a senators’ meeting today. “We are part of this political process and we will participate in it.”

Subsequently, Senator Saifullah Abro also said that the former ruling party did not take any decision to boycott the polls. He added that the final decision would be taken after the high court’s verdict.

IHC’s objection to PTI’s plea

The PTI, which ruled the country from 2018 to 2022, also filed a constitutional petition in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) challenging the said elections, but the IHC raised objection to the plea saying that a similar matter was already subjudice before the Peshawar High Court (PHC).

The plea was filed by PTI’s five senators —Dr Zarqa, Saifullah Niazi, Saifullah Abro, Falak Naz Chitrali, Fawzia Arshad and Humayun Mohmand — seeking to stop the elections in the upper house.

The objection was raised by the IHC Registrar Office saying that the case of KP’s Senate seats was already subjudice in the PHC, therefore, the same court should be approached.

President summons joint session

President Asif Ali Zardari has summoned the session of the upper house of the Parliament on Tuesday (tomorrow) for the oath of newly-elected members and the election of Senate chairman and deputy chairman amid opposition by the PTI over the election of top slots due to an “incomplete house”, The News reported Monday.

In the Senate session, newly-elected senators will take oath and an election for the constitutional post of chairman Senate and deputy chairman Senate will be held.

The presiding officer nominated by the prime minister will administer the oath to the newly-elected senators. Members elected in the by-elections of the Senate on vacant seats will also be administered the oath.

In the house of 96 members, 85 senators will take oath as the elections on 11 seats of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were postponed by the top electoral body.

It is noteworthy to mention here that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) nominated former prime minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani for the chairman Senate slot, however, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has not nominated anyone for the post of deputy chairman. The PML-N is mulling a woman lawmaker on the post and an announcement in this regard is expected today.

Meanwhile, PTI — the main opposition party — has not nominated its candidate for the post of chairman Senate to challenge the joint candidate of the ruling coalition.

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