The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday announced that by-elections for nine National Assembly seats – vacated after the acceptance of the resignations of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmakers – would be held on October 16.
The NA seats were vacated after speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf had, on July 28, accepted the resignations of PTI MNAs – nine on general seats and two on seats reserved for women – sparking controversy over the piecemeal acceptance of resignations.
The lawmakers whose resignations were ratified were part of more than 120 who had resigned from their NA seats en masse on April 11, two days after former prime minister Imran Khan was ousted from the top office in a no-confidence vote.
Subsequently, the PTI chief announced that he would be the lone contender for all nine NA seats in a bid to set a record. The by-elections were originally scheduled for September but were postponed by the commission, which cited the unavailability of security personnel in the wake of catastrophic floods across the country.
At the same time, PTI candidate elected from Karachi’s NA-246 Abdul Shakoor Shad, who was among the lawmakers who had resigned in April, had approached the Islamabad High Court earlier this month after which he was reinstated as an MNA. In a press release, the electoral watchdog said the eight constituencies were NA-22 Mardan, NA-24 Charsadda, NA-31 Peshawar, NA-45 Kurram, NA-108 Faisalabad, NA-118 Nankana Sahib, NA-237 Malir and NA-239 Karachi East-IV.
The ECP also discussed the second phase of the Sindh local government elections and decided that polling for all districts in Karachi division would be held on October 23.
The press release added that the ECP summoned a report regarding Hyderabad division to assess the flood situation and to determine whether or not by-polls could be held.
Polling was due to be held on August 28 in a total of 16 districts in Sindh – East, West, South, Central, Korangi, Keamari and Malir of Karachi division and Hyderabad, Dadu, Jamshoro, Matiari, Tando Muhammad Khan, Tando Allahyar, Badin, Sujawal and Thatta of Hyderabad division – in the second phase of the local government polls, but was postponed due to heavy rains and floods in the province.
Further, the ECP decided that by-elections for NA-157 Multan, PP-139 Sheikhupura, PP-241 Bahawalnagar and PP-209 Khanewal would also be held on October 16.
PTI’s Zain Qureshi was elected from NA-157 but was among the lawmakers who had resigned following Imran’s ouster. He then contested Multan’s PP-217 constituency defeating his opponent, PML-N’s Muhammad Salman Naeem, with a wide margin.
Even though his resignation was not accepted by the NA speaker, he ceased to hold office once he took oath as a provincial lawmaker.
On Monday, the ECP had decided to hold polls in the constituencies on October 9. However, the ECP meeting was informed on Wednesday that October 9 was expected to coincide with Eid Miladun Nabi (PBUH). The participants were also told that the Lahore High Court had directed the ECP to amend the date for the by-elections in light of Eid Miladun Nabi(PBUH).