ECP decides to hold open hearing on SIC plea for reserved seats

ISLAMABAD  -  After long deliberation, the Election Commis­sion of Pakistan (ECP) has decided to hold an open hearing on the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) application seek­ing allotment of re­served seats after Paki­stan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-backed lawmak­ers joined their ranks.

The decision comes amid expectations that the elector­al watchdog would decide on the mat­ter of awarding leftover reserved seats soon. However, the ECP announced that a five-member bench of the elec­toral body will hold the open hearing tomorrow.

It also issued notices to Khalid Maq­bool Siddiqui, SIC, Mahmood Khan, Maul­vi Iqbal Haider and Kunz-us-Saadat.

The development comes shortly after it emerged that President Alvi reportedly refused to sign a Ministry of Parliamenta­ry Affairs summary seeking the conven­ing of a National Assembly session.

President Alvi has maintained that the remaining reserved seats should be allocated before summoning the NA session which is supposed to be held within 21 days of the elections under the Constitution. Following his refusal, National Assembly’s outgoing Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf “decided” to con­vene the inaugural session of the new lower house of parliament on February 29, sources said on Monday. The PTI-af­filiated independent members joined the SIC in a bid to retain reserved seats since the Constitution entitles parlia­mentary parties present in the differ­ent houses to have a quota of reserved seats for women and minorities.

These PTI-affiliated independents joined the SIC in the National and Punjab assemblies last week. The idea behind this alliance was for the PTI indepen­dents to become a parliamentary group in the houses so they could avail the re­served seats. The SIC had approached the ECP and asked it to accept their con­tention of entitlement of reserved seats but ironically hadn’t submitted the list of its nominees for reserved seats till Sunday; the ECP was open on Sunday, despite it being a holiday.

The SIC chief was approached on Sun­day evening to ascertain the reasons for not filing a list of its members but he wasn’t available. Sources have quot­ed the constitutional obligations of the ECP in the matter.

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