Pakistan’s ruling coalition in Punjab loses 27 reserved seats after SC ruling

The decision by the speaker was taken on a point of order raised by opposition lawmaker Rana Aftab of SIC during the house proceedings

Speaker Malik Mohammad Ahmed Khan (photo: @uppal_qaiser/X)
Speaker Malik Mohammad Ahmed Khan (photo: @uppal_qaiser/X)


The ruling coalition led by the PML-N in Pakistan's Punjab has been jolted as the provincial assembly’s speaker restrained 27 lawmakers on reserved seats after the Supreme Court’s ruling suspending a lower court’s verdict denying the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) its share of reserved seats for women and minorities, according to media reports.

Speaker Malik Mohammad Ahmed Khan issued the ruling barring the women and non-Muslim members appointed to the reserved seats via past notifications of the Election Commission of Pakistan, The Express Tribune newspaper reported.

According to the ruling, they cannot function as members or partake in assembly proceedings until their status is clarified by either the ECP or the Supreme Court.

Of the suspended MPAs, 23 belong to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), two to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and one each to PML-Q and IPP, the Dawn newspaper reported.

The decision by the speaker was taken on a point of order raised a day ago by opposition lawmaker Rana Aftab of PTI-backed SIC during the house proceedings.

Aftab had argued that the apex court had suspended the decision of the ECP of allocating the reserved seats of the SIC to other parties on the plea that the SIC had neither contested elections nor had submitted a list of nominees for the seats reserved for women and minorities.

But Speaker Khan ruled that he had sought the opinions of the advocate general as well as the provincial law department and would take a decision only on receiving their reports, the Dawn reported.

After the beginning of the house proceedings on Friday, the speaker soon read out the SC order and gave the ruling that Aftab’s point of order was lawful and suspended the 27 members immediately.

When Aftab pointed out that the suspended MPAs had unlawfully voted for the resolution condemning the 9 May violence, the chair said he should have raised the issue when the resolution had been put to vote a day ago.

The Supreme Court’s decision and the Punjab Assembly speaker’s action puts the ruling coalition in the National Assembly in a dilemma as it is set to lose nearly two dozen members ahead of the crucial budget session.

President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday summoned the National Assembly session on 13 May and the SIC members are expected to seek a similar ruling from Speaker Ayaz Sadiq.

The ECP had allocated reserved seats to the parties in the National Assembly in proportion to the general seats won by them in the 8 February elections.

The ECP had withheld the notifications on 23 reserved seats — 20 for women and three for minorities — due to the dispute on the allocation of the seats after the decision of jailed former prime minister Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-backed independents to join the SIC, the report said.

Later, the ECP refused to allocate these seats to the SIC and issued notifications distributing these seats to the parties in the ruling coalition headed by the PML-N.

The ECP allocated 15 seats reserved for women to the PML-N, four to PPP and one to the JUI-F. It allocated one seat each reserved for the minorities to the PML-N, the PPP and the MQM-P.

As a result, PML-N became the largest party in the National Assembly with 123 seats while the tally of the PPP and the JUI-F rose to 73 and 11, respectively, the report said.

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