PESHAWAR: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has completed all the arrangements for smooth, transparent and peaceful holding of the Senate elections that would be held in the KP Assembly on Saturday.
As per the ECP schedule, elections for all 52 senate seats, representing the four provinces, FATA and Islamabad, will be organized on March 3. As many as 26 candidates will try their luck for 11 seats from KP to reach the Upper House of the Parliament.
Provincial Election Commissioner (PEC) Pir Maqbool Ahmed here Friday chaired an important meeting to review security arrangements for peaceful conduct of senate elections and upholding sanctity of vote.
The meeting was attended by SP security Sajad Sabizada, Major Asad, Deputy Secretary Home Department Rafiq Ahmed, Director Election Shahzad Ahmed, Director Rahim Kareem, Deputy Director Khushal Zada, District Election Commissioner Syed Zahoor Shah, Deputy Director Naveed Rehman and Public Relation Officer (PRO) Shohail Ahmed.
SP Security Sajjad Sahibzada briefed the meeting about the overall security related matters with regard to senate elections and said robust security plan had been worked out to ensure polls in peaceful and conducive atmosphere.
“There is a strong coordination among all the concerned departments and required number of security personnel had been deputed to perform their duties on the polling day,” he maintained.
Major Saad said FC personnel would also be stationed with assistance of police force and security staff of provincial assembly to ensure peaceful conduct of the polls.
The provincial election commissioner who is also Returning Officer of Senate election expressed satisfaction over security measures and hoped the elections would be in a peaceful and transparent manner.
All parliamentary leaders had assured full support to the Provincial Election Commissioner for smooth conduct of the election.
The ECP issued Code of Conduct (CoC) for smooth conduct of the election and bound lawmakers to bring the Secretariat Card along with them on the poling day and ensure secrecy of ballot paper and the vote.
No one would be allowed exclusive entry to the polling station and the use of mobile phone is strictly prohibited.
Confidentiality of the ballot paper and vote must be ensured while taking any election information out of the station is strictly prohibited. The ECP has warned of taking action against those trying to damage or manipulate ballot papers.
“Those not abiding by the CoC may face up to two years of imprisonment and a fine up to Rs100,000 and that ECP can use its discretion to impose any or all penalties to those breaking its rules,” it said.
The ECP has authorised returning officers (RO) to work as first class magistrates during the time of poll and have the right to call off the voting or render it void if they come across any attempts to disrupt order or compromise electoral process.
The ROs can instantly hold trials and announce penalties for any person involved in forgery or manipulation of ballot paper besides use their discretion to cancel any ballot paper they believe has been manipulated.
Against total 26 candidates for 11 KP senate vacant seats, 13 candidates will try luck on seven seats of general, five for two seats of technocrat, ulema and eight candidates for two women seats.
The candidates who will contest for technocrat seats included Maulana Samiul Haq (JUI-S) as an independent candidate supported by PTI, Sheikh Yaqub from Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), Azam Sawati from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) and Nisar Khan as an independent candidate.
Those who are in run for general seats are Mualana Gul Naseeb and Talha Mehmood from (JUI-F) while PTI fielded five candidates- Ayub Afridi, Khiyal Zaman, Faisal Javed, Abdul Latif Yousafzai and Fida Muhammad.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) nominated two candidates each, including Sakhi Saleem Bhut, Bahramand Tangi, Afzal Janoon and Pir Sabir Shah respectively.
Masood Abbas will contest for general seats on ANP ticket and Muhammad Ghafran on Qaumi Watan Party(QWP)’s ticket.
The candidates whose names have been approved for women seats included Mehar Taj Roghani and Nureen Farooq of PTI, Naeema Kishwar of JUI(F), Shaqufta Malik of ANP, Robina Khalid of PPP, Anisa Zeb Tahir Kheli of QWP, Raeesa Daud and Sobia Shahid of PML (N).
Saleh Muhammad MPA and PMLN leader told APP that PMLN has 16 members in the provincial assembly and is very confident of winning at least two seats out of the total 11 of the province.
Although the party is short of one seat as 17 members are needed for the general seat, the PML-N leader expressed optimism of winning not only a general seat for Pir Sabir Shah but also securing at least one seat of either technocrat or reserved for women for which negotiations with likeminded political parties were in progress.
He said PMLN has fielded Sobia Shahid for the women reserved seat and Dilawar Khan for the technocrat seat. Saleh is confident that lawmakers would resist the temptation to accept the alleged offers of money for buying votes in the Senate elections.
Speaker Asad Qaiser held key meetings with joint opposition and members of treasury benches for smooth conduct of the elections besides discouraging menace of political horse trading.
The opposition is also divided over distribution of seats as according to numerical strength the whole opposition i.e. PML-N, JUI-F, ANP, PPP, QWP along with JI, which is nowadays not on one page with PTI, might win five seats.
On the other hand, all political parties claims to get share according to their numerical strength as PML-N and JUI-F have 16 members each while PPP has 6, ANP 5, JI 7 and QWP 10 members and making hectic consultations and chalked strategies to get maximum seats from the politically fertile province.
Political observers foresee upset in the senate election as some of the parties are believed to have been making secret contacts with lawmakers for buying their votes. Keeping in view alleged horse-trading in the Senate elections in the past, the possibility couldn’t be ruled out this time that some lawmakers may give in to the temptation.
They opinioned in the prevailing political scenario, it seems difficult for the ruling PTI to get all its nominees elected despite having the numerical strength because of losing the loyalties of some of its dissident members.
The PTI’s dissident members have increased worries for their leadership, forcing them to constitute special panels for negotiations to end their long grievances.—APP