Senators to elect chairman, deputy today as PTI announces boycott

Islamabad high court rejects PTI’s plea to defer elections n Ruling coalition with 59 seats in comfortable position to get both top slots n PPP’s Yousuf Raza Gillani most likely to win Senate chairman election unopposed n 43 newly elected members will take oath in today’s sitting n PTI calls elections unconstitutional, announces boycott.


ISLAMABAD  -  An ‘incomplete’ Senate is all set to elect its Chair­man and Deputy Chair­man on Tuesday (today) in a crucial sitting amid boycott of the opposi­tion Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

It is likely that for­mer prime minister and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator-elect Yousuf Raza Gillani will get the coveted slot of the Chairman Senate. The PPP has nominated him as the joint candi­date of the ruling coali­tion in the centre for the coveted slot.

There are chances that Senator-elect Gillani will get the slot unopposed because PTI has boycot­ted the election and no other smaller opposi­tion party has so far an­nounced its candidate for the position.

Under the power-sharing formula agreed upon by the ruling coali­tion, the slot of the dep­uty chairman will go to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) but the party has not announced its candidate for the posi­tion up till now.

The ruling coalition that has 59 seats in the present 85-mem­ber house is in a com­fortable position to get both the slots. The Senate will meet for the first time after re­maining dysfunctional for around a month in which 43 members-elect will take oath of their six-year term. The presiding officer will then announce sched­ule for elections to the offices of chairman and deputy chairman same day. As many as 37 newly elected mem­bers will talk oath besides six members who were elected in the by-polls held in March.

At present the 96-member upper house of the parliament is incomplete as the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had postponed the Senate elec­tion on 11 seats of Khyber Pa­khtunkhwa (KP).

As many as 52 senators form­ing over half the strength of the house had retired on March 11.

The then Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani had already ceased to hold office on Febru­ary 15, under a constitutional provision, following his election as a member of the Balochistan Assembly. Senate elections are usually held days before the ex­piry of the senators’ term, but that could not happen this time around due to delay in holding of general elections and in the absence of an Electoral College.

The polling to fill 48 vacan­cies of the house was to be held on April 2. But 18 senators had been elected unopposed and elections on 11 Senate seats from KP had been postponed by the electoral watchdog at the eleventh hour due to a con­troversy surrounding delay in administration of oath to the members of the provincial as­sembly elected against reserved seats.

Meanwhile, PTI has decid­ed to boycott the elections of chairman and deputy chair­man calling it as unconstitu­tional. The PTI spokesperson in a statement took a strong ex­ception to the announcement of the elections for the two slots from an incomplete Elec­toral College, demanding the court to postpone the polls un­til the house was competed. He said that elections for the posi­tions of the chairman and depu­ty chairman of the Senate with­out the representations from all federating units were unconsti­tutional and unacceptable. He vowed that PTI would not tol­erate the insult of the Upper House to hold the election on the constitutional positions of the state from the incomplete Electoral College.

The spokesperson made it clear that electing chairman and deputy chairman in absence of senators from KP would be tantamount to murder of dem­ocratic values and traditions. He went on to say that keep­ing KP like important federat­ing unit out of the electoral pro­cess was part of the “nefarious and shameful attempts of a bi­ased group to sow the seed to provincial discard and hatred.”

The PTI spokesperson vowed that they would not accept the chairman and deputy chairman ‘selected’ from an incomplete house come what may. He urged that the court should take no­tice of the ongoing attempts to deviate from the constitution.

Meanwhile, the Islam­abad High Court (IHC) Mon­day rejected the Pakistan Teh­reek-e-Insaf (PTI) request to stay the elections on the slots of chairman and deputy chairman Senate and issued notices to the Election Commission of Paki­stan (ECP) in its petition seek­ing deferment of the elections.

A single bench of IHC com­prising Chief Justice of IHC Jus­tice Aamer Farooq conducted hearing of the five PTI Senators including, Dr Zarqa Suharwardy Taimur, Falak Naz, Fawzia Ar­shad, Saifullah Sarwar Khan Niazi, Saifullah Abro’s petition under Article 199 of the con­stitution. They moved the court through Shoaib Shaheen Advo­cate and cited Election Commis­sion of Pakistan (ECP) and Prin­ciple Secretary to President as respondents.

They have requested the Court to stay the process of electing the chairman and dep­uty chairman and defer it until Senate elections are conduct­ed in KP. They contended that Senate elections have not tak­en place in KP, thus urging the court to halt the elections for chairman and deputy chairman until the province’s polls are conducted.

During the hearing, the coun­sel for the petitioner contend­ed that instant petition calls in question notification dated 02.04.2024, wherein elections for the Senate in the Province of Khyber Pakhtunkhawa (KPK) were postponed. It was submit­ted that apparent reason for postponement of elections and perhaps the only excuse which the Election Commission of Pa­kistan has, is that the matter is pending before Supreme Court of Pakistan regarding reserved seats. 

The PTI counsel submit­ted that another notification was also issued on 08.04.2024 wherein it has been intimat­ed that elections for the post of Chairman and Deputy Chair­man, Senate shall be held on 09.04.2024. The counsel sub­mitted that election for Chair­man and Deputy Chairman of the Senate is to take place under Article 60 of the Constitution. In response to the query of the Court, learned counsel point­ed out that term of the present Chairman and Deputy Chair­man, Senate has expired. It was also contended that where such is the case, the President of Pa­kistan can nominate any person to hold the election or preside over the session. It was submit­ted that since one of the prov­inces is not represented, Senate is not duly constituted. 

Shaheen submitted that there are total 104 seats in the Sen­ate of Pakistan and each prov­ince has 14 seats, whereas for the province of KPK, at present, perhaps 11 seats are vacant. It was submitted that referred act of respondents regarding elec­tion of Senate amounts to de­priving a province from repre­sentation.

He added that the election to the offices of Chairman and Deputy Chairman cannot be held in the absence of holding of election to the vacant seats of the Senate from KP Assembly which amounts to undermining the provincial autonomy and due representation of KP in the Senate which represents the federal constitution.

The petition said that un­der Article 60 of the constitu­tion, the election to the offices of Chairman and Deputy Chair­man of the Senate can only be held after the Senate has been duly constituted. It is submitted that the Senate, in the absence of the said vacant seats to the Senate from KP, is not duly con­stituted.

The Electoral College being incomplete and not duly consti­tuted for the election to the said offices of Chairman and Depu­ty Chairman holding of the said election would be in violation of the constitution. It is submitted that since 11 seats of the Senate from KP are to be filled through election and only after the said election the Senate would be duly constituted. Any election for the offices of the Chairman and Deputy Chairman in ab­sence of a duly constituted Sen­ate shall be void.

Later, the court issued notices to the electoral watchdog seek­ing its response and deferred the proceedings.

Meanwhile, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has intensified con­tacts with various political par­ties for the election of Chairman Senate. The PPP special com­mittee for the election of Chair­man Senate is actively work­ing for the success of candidate Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani.

PPP Vice President Sherry Rehman and senior leader Nav­eed Qamar are forming a strate­gy for the election. Sherry Reh­man said Yousaf Raza Gillani has clear support in the Sen­ate.“PPP will prove its clear su­periority in the Senate with its allies tomorrow (April 9). Peo­ple and workers will celebrate the joy of their hopeful becom­ing Chairman Senate tomor­row,” she said.

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