ISLAMABAD - The Election Commission of Pakistan yesterday announced to hold by-elections for 33 vacant seats of National Assembly on March 16. These seats had fallen vacant after Speaker National Assembly Raja Pervaiz Ashraf accepted the pending resignations of 33 PTI MNAs and AML Chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.
According to the election schedule announced by the ECP, the candidates will be able to file their nomination papers between February 6-8.
The names of the candidates will be published on February 9 and the returning officers (ROs) will carry out the scrutiny of the nomination papers till February 13. The last date to file appeals against the RO’s decision on the acceptance or rejection of nomination papers is February 16.
According to the election schedule, the last date for the appellate tribunal to decide on the appeals is February 20. After this, the revised list of candidates will be published on February 21. The last date to withdraw candidature and release of revised list of candidates is February 22 while the election symbols will be allotted on February 23 and the polls will be held on March 16.
The 33 vacant seats from different provinces include NA-04 Swat-III, NA- 53 Islamabad-II, NA-126 Lahore-IV, NA-247 Karachi South-II, NA-17 Haripur-I, NA-54 Islamabad-III, NA- 130 Lahore-VIII, NA-250 Karachi West-III, NA-18 Swabi-I, NA-57 Rawalpindi-I, NA-155 Multan-I, NA-252 Karachi West-V, NA-25 Nowshera-I, NA-59 Rawalpindi-III, NA-156 Multan-III, NA-254 Karachi Central-II, NA-26 Nowshera-II, NA-60 Rawalpindi-IV, NA-191 Dera Ghazi Khan-III, NA-256 Karachi Central-IV, NA-32 Kohat, NA-62 Rawalpindi-VI, NA- 241 Korangi Karachi-III, NA-265 Quetta-II, NA-38 D.I. Khan-I, NA-63 Rawalpindi-VII, NA-242 Karachi East-I, NA-43 Khyber-I, NA-67 Jhelum-II, NA-243 Karachi East-II, NA-52 Islamabad-I, NA-97 Bhakkar-I, and NA-244 Karachi East-III. Currently, 124 National Assembly seats are lying vacant after the acceptance of resignations by Speaker National Assembly Raja Pervaiz Ashraf. All the seats have been de-notified by the Election Commission of Pakistan and by-election schedule for the rest of the vacant seats would be announced soon.
PTI lawmakers had resigned en masse from the lower house of parliament following the ouster of PTI chief Imran Khan in April last year. Ashraf had told a PTI delegation on December 29, 2022, that the party’s lawmakers would be summoned individually for verification of their resignations as the latter insisted on them being accepted in one go.
The PTI MNAs’ resignations were accepted in four stages. Initially, only 11 resignations were accepted, but after stalling the process for eight months, the NA speaker accepted the resignations of 34 PTI MNAs on Jan 17 and 35 MNAs on Jan 20, including Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid, as the party hinted it would “test” Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif with a confidence vote. On January 25, the ECP de-notified 43 more PTI lawmakers after Ashraf accepted their resignations.