Category Archives: PAKISTN

Some ‘N’ MPAs may ‘breach’ party lines

LAHORE: Today’s contest for Senate seats from Punjab may carry a couple of surprises for the Sharifs as some MPAs are reportedly planning to vote against party lines “just to give the impression that a revolt is brewing among them because of the indifference of the leadership towards them.”

54f7a6f49eaa6The “planning” was at its embryonic stage during the lunch thrown by the PML-N chairman and a nominee of the party for one of the two technocrat’s seats from Punjab Raja Zafarul Haq for Punjab Assembly members, the electorates, at a hotel here on Wednesday.

“Though we don’t want to see our party’s nominee lose against PPP’s Nadeem Afzal Chan, it’s time to show our existence to the leadership by giving a couple of votes to the latter,” an MPA, who was part of such a discussion admitted this reporter.

The PPP and the PML-Q, each having eight MPAs, and four independent MPAs have already announced their support for Mr Chan, who needs at least 35 first priority votes to make his way through the Senate on a general seat.

The PML-N MPA was not sure whether the “rebel group” would chose not to vote for Nihal Hashmi or Saleem Zia, both from Karachi.

Hamza Shahbaz, the son of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, is looking after electioneering of the N League’s nominees as the latter is away in Saudi Arabia accompanying Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Hamza has, as part of campaigning for seven general seats of Senate, formed as many groups of MPAs led by a provincial minister. Each nominee has been associated with the relevant group to increase their mutual interaction (and introduction for most of them are “alien” to the MPAs).

Former law minister Rana Sanaullah Khan has thoroughly briefed the MPAs about how to vote in the polls so that not a single ballot goes wasted.

A source claimed to ensure that all votes are polled as directed by the leadership the first (PML-N) voter would not cast his/her ballot in the ballot box and instead would put a blank white paper brining the original stamped vote outside the polling station and hand it over to the party official.

This vote would be given to the next voter who would cast it but bringing back his/her own ballot and so on.

In this way, the source said, one vote would go wasted but it would ensure that the rest were polled as per party lines.

The step, he added, was being taken on reports that former governors Makhdoom Ahmed Alam Anwar and Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar were making hectic efforts using their influence in the PML-N to make as much deeper dent into the N-League MPAs as possible.

However, no MPA contacted by this reporter admitted that they had been given any such direction about the polling day.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission officials assumed charge of the Committee Room B of the Punjab Assembly on Wednesday to set up a polling station there for the Senate polls.

Polling will start at 9am and will continue without any break up till 4pm.

All CCTV cameras have been removed from the place while the MPAs have been directed to submit their respective cell phones, cameras, etc. to a special desk to be set up for the purpose before entering the polling station.

They are required to carry with them their respective badges duly issued by the Assembly Secretariat for identification as a voter.


Two ordinances promulgated

ISLAMABAD: In a late night development, President Mamnoon Hussain issued two ordinances; one dealing with the conduct of local government elections in cantonment boards, and the other dealing with the voting rights of MNAs from the tribal areas in Thursday’s Senate election.

54f79e4c91c58The first order, entitled the Cantonment (amendment) Ordinance 2015, empowers the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to conduct LG polls in the 43 cantonment areas throughout the country. Through the seven-page ordinance, the ECP has been authorised to issue an election schedule after receiving such a request from the federal government.

The ECP has also been empowered to receive nomination papers, carry out scrutiny, allot symbols as well as appoint returning officers and other staff for the election process. The ECP will also prepare the electoral rolls for the LG elections to be held under this ordinance.

ECP empowered to hold LG polls in cantonment areas

The ordinance was repeatedly referred to by the government’s law officers before the Supreme Court as it took up the matter of delay in LG polls. The apex court chided the ECP and the government for the inordinate delay in holding LG polls, to which Attorney General Salman Aslam Butt had replied on Tuesday that the ordinance was ready and would be promulgated within 24 hours of the prorogation of both houses of parliament. Ordinances cannot be issued by the Presidency as long as parliament is in session.

The second order was issued on the basis of a summary moved by the Safron ministry and deals with the voting rights of Fata senators in the Senate elections. The ordinance withdraws the Statutory Regulatory Order of July 7, 1975, as well as a 2002 executive order — issued by former president Gen Pervez Musharraf — which gave each tribal senator as many votes as the number of vacant seats. Following the withdrawal of the two earlier orders, each Fata MNA will now only have one vote.

Both ordinances will come into effect on March 5, 2015 and the latter will be applicable to the Senate elections being held on Thursday (today).

Polling underway in Senate elections: Media barred from coverage in NA, KP

KARACHI: Polling for Senate seats went underway in the national and provincial assemblies on Thursday as 132 candidates contest for 48 seats in the Upper House of Parliament.

54f7d7af8709dAccording to the Election Commission of Pakistan, 84 candidates will contest for 33 general seats from the provinces, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the federal capital, 22 for eight seats reserved for women from the provinces and the federal capital and 18 for eight seats reserved for technocrats, including ulema. Eight candidates will contest for two seats reserved for minorities — one each from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

No person entering the assemblies’ premises would be allowed to carry their cellphones or any other electronic devices with them as per the ECP’s directives.

The provincial assemblies had been declared polling stations for the respective provinces and the National Assembly for four senators from Fata and two from Islamabad.

The hall of the respective assemblies have been designated as the polling stations. Separate pollings stations have been formed in the National Assembly for the election of four senators from Fata and two from Islamabad.

The ruling PML-N and the main opposition PPP are expected to secure almost equal representation in the Upper House. The number of seats each party is expected to win is 25, but any behind-the-scenes moves can bolster the position of either party to enable it to clinch the offices of chairman and deputy chairman of the Senate.

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf is set to make history by getting representation in the Upper House for the first time. The Jamaat-i-Islami, which had lost representation in the Senate in 2012 after it boycotted the 2008 general elections, is expected to make a comeback.

The Senate comprises of 104 members — 23 each from the four provinces, eight from Fata and four from Islamabad. The seats allocated to a province comprise 14 general seats, four reserved for women, four for technocrats and one for a minority member.

The election for half of the Senate seats takes place every three years.

Media personnel, including that of state-owned PTV, have been barred from entering the National and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly as part of security arrangements. Journalists have not been allowed to carry their cameras and were expelled from the press galleries of respective assemblies.

A Punjab Member of Provincial Assembly, Sobia Anwar Satti, who belongs to the PML-N and was elected on a seat reserved for women fell sick while the elections for the Senate seats were being conducted in the Punab Assembly.

Rescue 1122 teams reached the spot and shifted the ailing MPA on a stretcher to an ambulance which rushed her to a nearby hospital for treatment.

IGP report reveals 147 foreign-funded seminaries in Punjab

ISLAMABAD: In contradiction of his previous statement denying foreign funding of seminaries in Punjab, Inspector General Police (IGP) Punjab Mushtaq Sukhera on Wednesday said that 147 seminaries in the province are financed by foreign funding.

54f6f4c41879bAfter earlier maintaining that there were no foreign-funded madrassas in Punjab, Sukhera today informed the Senate Standing Committee on Rules of Procedure and Privileges (SSCRPP) that there were in fact nearly 150 seminaries receiving funds from foreign countries.

He also told members of the committee that law and enforcement agencies, including the Punjab police, are taking action against all those involved in spreading hate speech, following the directives of the federal government under the National Action Plan (NAP).

The committee which summoned IGP Punjab Mushtaq Sukhera to explain his incorrect reply to the Senate was attended by its members under the Chairmanship of Senator Col (Retd) Tahir Hussain Mashhadi.

In response to a question by PPP Senator Syeda Sughra Imam, IGP Punjab Mushtaq Sukhera had told the Senate through a written reply on January 30 that not a single seminary is receiving foreign funding in Punjab.

These revelations were startling in their own right and many senators were astonished to learn that no seminaries in Punjab were receiving funding from foreign sources.

The IG was quoted saying, “The requisite report may be treated as nil. No madrassa involved in receiving financial and training assistance from Islamic countries has come to our notice during surveillance carried out by field formations.”

However, during proceedings Minister for the Interior Muhammad Baligh ur Rehman failed to convince the opposition benches due to the contradiction of the federal government and the provincial government regarding foreign funding of Punjab seminaries.

Later, the Senate Deputy Chairman Sabir Baloch referred the matter to the SSCRPP as the IGP Punjab had breached the privilege of the Senate. The Senate then summoned IGP Sukhera to furnish a detailed report on funding of Punjab seminaries.

The IGP today informed the Senate Standing Committee that the home department is registering all unregistered seminaries in the province with the support of the main leadership of the concerned seminaries.

“The law enforcement agencies also sealed a seminary affiliated with the Lal Masjid in the Rujhan Jaamali area of district DG Khan as the management of the seminary was involved in spreading hate material,” the IGP added.

Sukhera told the committee members that that the police are carrying out surveillance of the seminaries across the province due to the ongoing situation of the law and order in the country.

Members of the committee asked the IGP Punjab to implement the directives of the federal government by following the NAP recommendations regarding the registration and funding of the seminaries in the province.