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Sunni Ittehad Council Ineligible for Reserved Seats, Says Election Commission of Pakistan

Islamabad: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has ruled that the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) is ineligible for reserved seats because non-Muslims cannot be members of religio-political parties. This decision was announced by the country’s top electoral authority on Saturday.

In a response to the Supreme Court regarding the case of the reserved seat, the ECP asserted that the SIC cannot be allocated reserved seats. In mid-February, PTI-backed independent candidates joined the SIC to secure reserved seats after the Supreme Court stripped the PTI of its iconic symbol before elections.

The National Assembly has 70 reserved seats out of 210 seats in the entire country, which are exclusively allotted to political parties. The deadline for submitting the list of reserved seats was January 24, but the SIC did not submit the required list, according to the election commission.

The ECP noted that candidates were initially asked to provide a certificate for the PTI-Nazriati electoral symbol but later withdrew from using the symbol, thus being declared independent candidates. These candidates joined the SIC after the general elections. The Peshawar High Court upheld the ECP’s decision not to allocate reserved seats to the SIC upon the party’s appeal.

The ECP reiterated that the SIC is not eligible for reserved seats, emphasizing that there was “no flaw” in the decisions of both the ECP and PHC, as they were “under the Constitution and law.”

Additionally, the ECP highlighted that the SIC’s constitution does not allow non-Muslims to be its members. On Friday, the Supreme Court announced a 13-member full bench, headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, to hear the reserved seats case on June 24 and 25.

Earlier this month, Chief Justice Isa observed that many issues could have been avoided if the PTI had held its intra-party elections. Justice Muneeb remarked that the ECP’s decision to remove the bat symbol from the PTI had triggered a “cascading” series of errors.

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