K-P Assembly’s crisis likely to impact Senate elections

Speaker has refused to administer oath to members elected on reserved seats

Wisal Yousafzai March 23, 2024


With the Senate elections a couple of weeks away, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Assembly finds itself mired in a political standoff as opposition parties are crying foul over the perceived bias on the part of the Speaker of the Assembly.

After last week’s decision of the Peshawar High Court dismissing the Sunni Ittehad Council’s (SIC) petition challenging the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) ruling that denied reserved seats to the party, reserved seats were allocated to the opposition parties in the Assembly.

However, the Speaker of the Assembly has refused to administer oaths to the members-elect. In this regard, Dr Ibadullah, the Leader of the Opposition in the provincial Assembly, from the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), voiced his concerns in an interview with The Express Tribune, alleging that the speaker was unfairly obstructing opposition members from taking oath for reserved seats, which could potentially sway the Senate elections. He emphasised the importance of allowing successful candidates from women and minority quotas to assume their rightful positions.

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“We are deeply concerned about the integrity of the electoral process,” Dr Ibaduallah remarked. “Preventing duly elected members from taking their seats is an illegal act.”In response to the opposition’s grievances, a session of the Assembly had been summoned for Friday, March 22nd, by the K-P’s Governor, Haji Ghulam Ali, under Article 109 of the Constitution. However, the session could not materialise, as the Speaker sought the provincial law department’s opinion on whether the Governor could summon a session of the Assembly. While the provincial law department is yet to render its opinion on the matter, Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif, the Special Assistant to the Chief Minister for Information and Public Relations, clarified that the government does not interfere in the Assembly’s affairs. He reiterated that the decision to call a session lies within the purview of the Governor and the Speaker. “Reserving seats for specific members is a matter for the Speaker’s discretion,” Saif stated.

“The government respects the independence of the assembly in this regard,” he added. Be that as it may, a delay in the session has political repercussions. In this regard, Senior journalist Shahid Hamid highlighted the critical nature of a resolution to be passed regarding the Senate elections in the K-P Assembly, which would trigger vote for the Senate elections. “In this vote, if the Assembly’s session is adjourned, it would lead to the opposition losing its chance to oppose the Senate vote for the SIC’s proposed Senators.

Consequently, the government will be able to secure 10 out of 11 Senate seats up for grabs from the province. However, if the opposition’s reserved members-elect take oath and it can oppose the SIC’s proposed Senators, the government may only be able to secure 7 out of 11 Senate seats,” explained Hamid while talking to The Express Tribune.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 23rd, 2024.


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