Senate elections will be conducted as per ‘past practice’: ECP

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ISLAMABAD – The Election Commission of Pakistan has announced on Tuesday that voting for the Senate elections, which are scheduled for March 3, will be held as per “past practice”.

The commission issued a statement after a meeting reviewed the opinion made by the Supreme Court on the presidential reference seeking permission to hold Senate polls through open ballot process.

Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja chaired the meeting while it was attended by ECP members Justice (retd) Altaf Ibrahim Qureshi, Justice (retd) lrshad Qasir, Shah Muhammad Jatoi and Nisar Ahmed Durrani.

The Commission decided that “due to time constraint, ensuing Senate Election scheduled for 3rd March 2021 will be conducted as provided in the Constitution and Law as per past practice”.

“The commission deliberated on the order/opinion of the Supreme Court passed today in Presidential Reference No. 1/2020 and decided to implement it in letter and spirit,” read the statement.

It added, “Commission is taking all possible steps and measures to fulfil its constitutional duty to check that corrupt practices in the Senate Elections are guarded against”.

The ECP said it has so far not received the detailed order/opinion of the apex court.

It said that the SC has held that the election to the Senate of Pakistan is under the Constitution and the law which is through a secret ballot.

“The Supreme Court in short order mentioned that the Election Commission is required to utilize the technologies and to develop a mechanism for the fulfilment of its constitutional duty in terms of Article 218(3) of the Constitution.”

In light of the order, the ECP will form a three-member committee comprising special secretary as convenor, Director General (IT) as member and Saeed Gull, JPEC Punjab also as member.

The committee will prepare recommendations regarding the use of technology in the Senate election within a period of four weeks.

The committee may also take assistance from NADRA, FIA and the  Ministry of IT, said the ECP.

Senate elections 2021

The Senate elections will be held at Parliament House Islamabad and the respective provincial assemblies on Wednesday to elect new members of the Upper House.

Polling will start at the Parliament House Islamabad and the provincial assemblies of Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at 09:00 am and will continue till 5:00 pm without any break. All Senate candidates from Punjab have been elected unopposed.

According to the Election Commission, sixty candidates are contesting on general seats, thirty-one on women, twenty on Technocrat/Ulema seats while ten candidates are in the field on non-Muslims seats.

As many as 52 senators in the house of 104 are set to retire on 11th of this month on completion of their six-year term.