Balochistan Assembly demands increase in seats

Passes resolution; speaker summons provincial election commissioner


Mohammad Zafar March 19, 2018
Minister for Communication Asim Kurd presenting the resolution during a Balochistan Assembly session. PHOTO: EXPRESS

QUETTA: The Balochistan Assembly has passed a resolution demanding an increase of 20 seats in its current 65-member legislature after it surfaced that the new delimitation in the province was flawed.

In this regard, speaker Rahila Hameed Khan Durrani constituted a committee of MPAs for approaching all elected senators and MNAs to ensure implementation of its resolution.

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The speaker said, “Balochistan election commissioner should remove apprehensions of public representatives regarding new delimitations.”

It was also decided that the provincial election commissioner would be summoned to brief the legislators on the delimitation process carried out in Balochistan.
The resolution was jointly moved by provincial ministers and opposition members in the assembly.

Provincial Minister for Communication Asim Kurd presented the resolution on behalf of 18 MPAs and ministers.

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The resolution stated, “Despite the fact that the population of Balochistan increased to 12.34 million in last year’s census, the Election Commission of Pakistan increased only three seats in the National Assembly from Balochistan, while not a single seat in the provincial assembly was increased.”
The resolution demanded increasing district-wise the number of National Assembly seats and at least 20 more provincial assembly seats.

The MPAs stated through the resolution that apart from not being able to solve problems of the people of the province at their doorstep, the new delimitation also raised apprehensions that different tribes would be pitted against each other in the upcoming general elections.

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Speaking on the floor of the house, Kurd suggested that all districts of Balochistan should be declared National Assembly constituencies with Quetta district – having over two million population - be divided into five National Assembly constituencies.

He said, “In the new delimitations of some constituencies, five districts had been merged.”
Opposition Leader Abdul Rahim Ziaratwal said, “Without consulting and having knowledge of the landscape of Balochistan, some people sitting in Islamabad made the new delimitations which are not acceptable for Balochistan.”

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Ziaratwal pointed out that as under the new delimitation some constituencies were spread over 800 to 1,000 kilometres, it would be impossible for a candidate to visit his constituency within the limited time period for his or her election campaign.
He said, “All political parties have rejected these new delimitations of the national and provincial assemblies’ constituencies.”
Home Minister Sarfraz Ahmed Bugti apprised the house that he along with some other MPAs and a senator had taken up the issue with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and he had empowered the MPAs to prepare a formula for new delimitations.

However, Ziaratwal and former opposition leader Maulana Abdul Wasey did not support the move. They said, “Let the federal government do it.”
Other members who spoke on the resolution included: Sheikh Jaffar Khan Mandokhel, Rehmat Baloch, Nasarullah Zerey, Hamid Achakzai, Dr Ruqaiya Saeed Hashmi, Mujeebur Rahman, Muhammad Hasni, Deputy Opposition Leader Engineer Zamarak Khan Piralizai and others.

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