By National News Desk
Islamabad: On Friday, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) asked the Pakistan Election Commission to extend the timeline for the submission of candidates for the upcoming Senate elections, citing time constraints and legal issues.
In a letter to the Chief Electoral Commission, PPP Secretary-General Nayyar Hussain Bukhari said that the time given by the Pakistan Elections Commission (ECP) is not enough and said that more time is required to exercise at all levels of the Union Council to finalise its candidates for the Senate elections, Geo News reported.
According to the letter, the ECP announced the schedule for elections on February 12 and gave only two days — February 12 and 13 — for the nomination papers to be submitted.
“It involves inviting applications, scrutiny, setting up of parliamentary boards, interviewing candidates before finally awarding them tickets. As the candidates run into hundreds the exercise takes considerable time,” Bukhari said.
According to Geo News, Bukhari further lamented that the interviews could not be held when the schedule is so cramped, resulting in “disappointment to aspiring candidates”. He also said that the documentation required for submission of nomination forms by candidates is also very cumbersome making it difficult to complete all formalities in two days.
“For instance, a candidate is required to open a special bank account for the conduct of elections. Due to international anti-money laundering requirements, the procedure of opening special bank accounts has been made very cumbersome and complicated in itself and requires a separate set of documentation from the candidates,” he said.
The PPP leader asserted that the bank branches send each case to their respective head offices for scrutiny and clearance and it was simply not possible to get clearance for opening a bank account in one or two days.
“I, therefore, urge the Honourable Chief Election Commissioner to kindly look into and take appropriate steps to redress the situation,” Bukhari said.
Meanwhile, the ECP has announced that the Senate elections will take place on March 3, reported Geo News.
This comes days after Pakistan President Arif Alvi had signed the Elections (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 to pave the way for Senate elections to be held via an “open and identifiable ballot”.
The ordinance stated that according to Section 226 of the Constitution: “All elections under the Constitution, other than those of the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister, shall be by secret ballot”. The Ordinance will come into effect “at once” and “extend to the whole of Pakistan, said the President.
The Pakistan opposition leaders have vehemently opposed the government’s move to hold Senate elections via a show of hands.
(With inputs from ANI)