Only the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has fielded its candidate for the upcoming by-election on the Senate seat vacated by K-P Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra.
There are 18 political parties in the National Assembly (NA), which usually elects the senator on the seat reserved for Islamabad.
March 21 was the deadline for the submission of nomination papers for the seat from Islamabad, for which polling is scheduled for March 31, according to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
According to an ECP official, only one candidate, PML-N’s Sardar Yaqoob Khan Nasar, has submitted his nomination papers.
Nasar belongs to the Balochistan province and lost his Senate election in 2015 there. Now he will be able to represent the people of Islamabad in the upper house of parliament. He is likely to win unopposed and the notification of his election will be issued after March 31.
None of the 17 other parties in the 342-member lower house of parliament has bothered to participate in the election process, giving the ruling party the go-ahead to get its candidate elected unopposed.
Against the rules?
The Constitution had envisioned the Senate to be the House of Federation, where all federating units would be represented for promotion of national cohesion and harmony. Islamabad Capital Territory being a distinct federating unit was given four seats in the Senate.
Political parties have time and again violated the spirit of the Constitution by nominating their party loyalists from one province to represent another, where they have the numerical strength to elect their nominees. The Senate apparently has become the representative of the political parties rather than the federating units.
In the 2015 Senate elections, the PML-N had fielded Nehal Hashmi and Saleem Zia, both from Sindh to be elected from Punjab.
Islamabad’s case was particularly interesting as both the PML-N candidates were from other provinces: Iqbal Zafar Jhagra from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Raheela Magsi, a resident of Tando Allahyar in Sindh.
The PML-N is not the only party violating the rules.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement had got elected Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif, the K-P MQM president, from Sindh. Mian Ateeq, the MQM Punjab president was also elected to the Senate from Sindh through the numerical strength of MQM in the Sindh Assembly.
The Awami National Party had its Sindh President Shahi Syed elected from K-P. Rehman Malik and Farooq Naek of the Pakistan Peoples Party are representing the province of Sindh though they hail from Punjab.
The most interesting case of political parties and not the federating units sending their representatives to the Senate is of Professor Khursheed Ahmed of the Jamaat-e-Islami. He has served as a senator from the province of Sindh from 1985 to 1991, from Punjab between 1991 and 1997 and from K-P from 2003 till 2012.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 23rd, 2016.
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