ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday enlisted Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), Pakistan Muslim League-Functional, National Party and Aam Aadmi Tehreek Pakistan, bringing the total number of political parties recognised by the election watchdog to 70.
MQM-P, which is going through internal wrangling, has been enlisted with Dr Farooq Sattar as its convener.
On January 12, the ECP had de-listed all those parties that had not submitted list of at least 2,000 members along with photocopies of their Computerised National Identity Cards and a fee of Rs200,000.
Over 350 political parties were enlisted with the ECP, many of which had become redundant decades back. The ECP did not have any mechanism to delist any party once it was enlisted until the passage of the Election Act, 2017, which provided an opportunity to the ECP to delist dormant parties.
Still 70 parties made it to the list-many of them little known to the people.
The rift among the MQM-P leaders over awarding Senate tickets took an ugly turn with the Rabita Committee withdrawing the powers of Sattar and the latter rejecting the decision.
“The actual powers lie with the Rabita Committee and not its convener Sattar,” said MQM-P Deputy Convener Kanwar Naveed in a letter to the ECP secretary on Friday.
Referring to the party’s constitution, Naveed said, “The committee has adopted a resolution under which the powers of Sattar to issue and submit Senate tickets have been withdrawn with immediate effect. Any party ticket or certificate issued by any unauthorised person, including Sattar, will be invalid.”
The rift has split the party into two groups-MQM Bahadurabad and MQM PIB Colony.
A majority of the Rabita Committee members belong to the Bahadurabad group, which has now decided in principle to get rid of Sattar and elect its own convener.
“Article 9-A of the constitution of MQM-P refers to issuance of party tickets. The provision clarifies that party tickets shall be issued to candidates for Senate, National Assembly, provincial assembly and even local bodies, who are selected by the Rabita Committee, so none other can finalise issuance of party tickets to any candidate,” stated the letter addressed to the ECP. “Anyone, including an officer bearer, issuing party tickets without the consent of the Rabita Committee will be acting without jurisdiction and with malafide intent and such party tickets will be void ab initio and of no legal effect.”
The committee in its letter also referred to a resolution passed by its members on February 2 in which they finalised the names of candidates for Senate election, including Nasreen Jalil for women’s seat, Muhammad Farogh Naseem for both general and technocrat seats, Aminul Haq for general seat, and Amir Chishtie also for general seat.
The ECP spokesperson said, “A returning officer (RO) will make the decision looking at the election rules, election act and constitution of the party. The RO is authorised to make the decision looking into those three things.”
MQM-P leader Faisal Subzwari said, “MQM is not a property of anyone and it will be run on merit.”
Sattar rejected the Rabita Committee’s decision and insisted that he was the party head and no one could remove him from the leadership post. “I am an elected convener of the party and reserve the right to issue tickets,” he said, adding that they would chair the meeting of party whenever he wanted.
Sources privy to the development told The Express Tribune that “Sattar has started consultation with senior leaders of his party over the matter and they are also considering dissolving the Rabita Committee”.
“He has summoned senior and trusted leaders at PIB Colony,” said sources in the MQM-P, adding that many MPAs and MNAs were also with Dr Farooq Sattar and he may convene a general workers meeting to get their consent on the current situation.
On the other hand, former CPLC head Ahmed Chinoy, who is one of the Senate candidates nominated by Sattar, has reportedly refused to contest the Senate election and requested both groups to resolve the issue amicably.
Sattar is in favour of awarding the party ticket for Senate seat to Kamran Tessori, who recently joined the party, while majority of the Rabita Committee members are against the decision.
After three days of negotiations failed, both the groups nominated their own candidates and filed their papers with the ECP for Senate election scheduled for March 3.