ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has announced that the directives of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in the Presidential Reference regarding the Senate Elections will be implemented in letter and spirit; however, due to “time constraints”, the polls slated on March 3 will be conducted as provided in the Constitution and Law as per the last practice.
The Senate Elections 2021 will be held at the Parliament House in Islamabad and the respective provincial assemblies on Wednesday to elect new Members of the Upper House.
The polling will start at the Parliament House in 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.
It’s worth noting that all Senate Candidates from Punjab have already been elected unopposed.
As per the ECP, 60 Candidates are contesting on General Seats, 31 on Women Seats, and 20 on Technocrat/Ulema Seats while 10 Candidates are in the field on non-Muslims Seats.
It merits a mention here that 52 Senators in the 104-member Upper House of the Parliament are set to retire on March 11 on completion of their six-year term.
Earlier on Monday, a five-member larger bench of the Apex Court headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed in its short order said that it’s is the duty of the ECP to ensure that the election is conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with the law and that corrupt practices are guarded against.
The Supreme Court said that the Election Commission is required to take all available measures including utilizing technologies to fulfill the solemn constitutional duty to ensure that the election is conducted honestly, justly, fairly, and in accordance with the law and that corrupt practices are guarded against.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission announced that a meeting was held at the ECP Secretariat in Islamabad on March 1 under the Chairmanship of the Chief Election Commission of Pakistan Sikandar Sultan Raja, and attended by Justice (retd) Altaf Ibrahim Qureshi, Justice (retd) Irshad Qasir, Shah Muhammad Jatoi, and Nisar Ahmed Durrani.
It said that in the meeting, the Commission deliberated on the order/opinion of the Supreme Court passed on Monday in Presidential Reference No. 1/2020 and decided to implement it in letter and spirit.
It said that that the Election Commission is taking all possible steps and measures to fulfill its Constitutional duty to check that corrupt practices in the Senate Elections are guarded against.
In the light of the Supreme Court’s order, the Election Commission has decided to constitute a three-member Committee comprising of the Special Secretary as the Convenor, the Director-General (IT), and the Joint Provincial Election Commissioner (JPEC) Punjab Saeed Gul which shall prepare recommendations regarding the use of technology in Senate Elections within a period of four weeks.
The Committee may also take assistance from NADRA, FIA, the Ministry of IT, and any person from these organizations may step into it or co-opt for giving better recommendations.
However, the ECP also decided that due to time constraints, the Senate Elections scheduled on March 3, 2021 will be conducted as provided in the Constitution and Law as per the last practice.