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    ELECTORAL SYSTEM IN PAKISTAN

    Introduction

     The Parliament of Pakistan consists of the President and two Houses to be known respectively as National Assembly and the Senate. The National Assembly consists of 342 Seats including 60 seats reserved for Women and 10 Seats reserved for Non-Muslims. The Senate consists of 100 Members including 17 Seats reserved for Women and 17 Seats reserved for Technocrats and Ulema. The Members of the National Assembly are elected for a term of 5 years whereas the Members of the Senate are elected for a term of 6 years with staggered elections every 3 years.  

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    Election Commission of Pakistan

    • For the purpose of elections to both Houses of Parliament, Provincial Assemblies and for election of such other public offices as may be specified by law or until such law is made by the Parliament by Order of the President, a permanent Election Commission is constituted by the President comprising the Chief Election Commissioner as its Chairman and 4 Members, each of whom is a Judge of High Court, appointed by the President after consultation with the Chief Justice of High Court concerned and with the Chief Election Commissioner.  

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    Duties of Election Commission

    • The Election Commission constituted in relation to an election has been charged with the duty to organize and conduct the election an to make such arrangements as are necessary to ensure that the election is conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with law and that corrupt practices are guarded against.  

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    Chief Election Commissioner

    • The Chief Election Commissioner is appointed by the President, in his discretion, for a term of 3 years. A person who is or has been, a Judge of Supreme Court or is, or has been a Judge of a High Court and is qualified to be appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan is appointed as Chief Election Commissioner. The Chief Election Commissioner enjoys security of tenure and financial autonomy.  

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    Duties of the Chief Election Commissioner

    • Under the Constitution, the Chief Election Commissioner has been charged with the duty of –

                       a)  preparing electoral rolls for election to the National Assembly, Provincial Assemblies and Local Government Institutions. It is also the duty of the Chief Election Commissioner to revise such rolls annually;

                       b)  organizing and conducting election to the Senate or to fill casual vacancies in a House or a Provincial Assembly; and

                       c)  appointing Election Tribunals; and

                      d)  conduct of Local Government Elections. 

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    Election to the National/Provincial Assemblies

    • Members of the National Assembly and Provincial Assemblies are elected by direct voting in a constituency on first-past-the-post system through a secret ballot. A candidate who obtains the highest number of votes in a constituency, is declared elected as a Member of National or a Provincial Assembly. The constituency-wise detail of seats in the National Assembly and Provincial Assemblies is as under:-  

    NATIONAL ASSEMBLY - NUMBER OF SEATS

    Province / Area

    General Seats

    Seats reserved for

    Total

    Non-Muslims

    Women

    Federal Capital

    2

     

     

     

    10

     

    2

    Punjab

    148

    35

    183

    Sindh

    61

    14

    75

    NWFP

    35

    8

    43

    FATAs

    12

    --

    12

    Balochistan

    14

    3

    17

    Total:

    272

    10

    60

    332+10=342

     

    PROVINCIAL ASSEMBLIES - NUMBER OF SEATS

    Province / Area

    General Seats

    Seats reserved for

    Total

    Non-Muslims

    Women

    Punjab

    297

    8

    66

    371

    Sindh

    130

    9

    29

    168

    NWFP

    99

    3

    22

    124

    Balochistan

    51

    3

    11

    65

    Total:

    577

    23

    128

    728

     

    •  The Seats in the National Assembly are allocated to each Province, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATAs) and the Federal Capital on the basis of population in accordance with the last preceding Census officially published.
    • Members to the Seats reserved for Women and Non-Muslims, are elected in accordance with law through proportional representation system of political party’s lists of candidates on the basis of total number of General Seats secured by each political party in the National Assembly or a Provincial Assembly.

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     Election to the Senate

    • The Senate consists of 100 members, of whom 14 members are elected by each Provincial Assembly, 8 members are elected from Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATAs) by the Members of National Assembly from these areas, 2 members, 1 woman and 1Technocrat is elected from the Federal Capital by the Members of National Assembly, 4 women and 4 Technocrats are elected by the members of each Provincial Assembly. The breakup of seats allocated to each Province, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATAs), Federal Capital, Women and Ulema/Technocrats, is as under:  

    Senate 

    NUMBER OF SEATS

    Province / Area

    General Seats

    Seats reserved for

    Total

    Women

    Technocrats, Ulema & Non-Muslims

    Federal Capital

    2

    1

    1

    4

    Punjab

    14

    4

    5

    23

    Sindh

    14

    4

    5

    23

    NWFP

    14

    4

    5

    23

    FATAs

    8

    -

    -

    8

    Balochistan

    14

    4

    5

    23

    Total:

    66

    17

    21

    104

     

    • It is the responsibility of the Chief Election Commissioner to hold and make arrangements for the Senate elections in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote through electoral colleges.

     

    • The term of the members of the Senate is 6 years. However, the term of the first group of the Senators, who shall retire after completion of first 3 years of the Senate, is determined by drawing of lots by the Chief Election Commissioner.

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    Election to the office of the President

    • The President of Pakistan is chosen by a secret ballot through an Electoral College comprising the Members of the Senate, National Assembly and the Provincial Assemblies. A person who is a Muslim and not less than 45 years of age and is qualified to be elected as a Member of the National Assembly can contest the Presidential election. The President is elected for a term of 5 years. It is the duty of Chief Election Commissioner to conduct elections to the office of the President in a special session of Parliament and all the Provincial Assemblies in accordance with the provisions of Second Schedule to the Constitution.

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    Qualification for membership of the Parliament and Provincial Assemblies.

    • A person who is a citizen of Pakistan, is enrolled as a voter in any electoral roll and in case of National/Provincial Assemblies is not less than 25 years of age and in case of Senate not less than 30 years of age, is of good character and is not commonly known as one who violates Islamic injunctions, has adequate knowledge of Islamic teachings and practices, obligatory duties prescribed by Islam as well as abstains from major sin, is sagacious, righteous and non-profligate, honest and ameen, has not been convicted for a crime involving moral turpitude or for giving false evidence, and has not, after establishment of Pakistan, worked against the integrity of the country or opposed the ideology of Pakistan and is graduate, can contest the elections and become a member of the Parliament or a Provincial Assembly.

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    Elections to the Local Government Institutions

    • In order to decentralize administrative and financial authority to be accountable to Local Governments, for good governance, effective delivery of services and transparent decision making through institutionalized participation of the people at grassroots level, elections to the local government institutions are held after every 4 years on non party basis by the Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan. Members of Union Council including Union Nazim and Naib Union Nazim are elected through direct elections based on adult franchise and on the basis of joint electorate. The electoral college for election of Zila Nazim and reserved seats of women, Peasants and Workers and Minorities in the Zila Council shall be all the members of Union Councils in the district including Union Nazim and Naib Union Nazims. The electoral college for the election of a Tehsil Nazim, Town Nazim and reserved seats of Women, Peasants and Workers, and Minorities in the Tehsil council and Town Council shall be all the members of the Union Councils in Tehsil or, as the case may be Town, including Union Nazims and Naib Union Nazims. However, for the election to the reserved seats for Women in Zila council proportionately divided among Tehsils or Towns shall be all members of the Union Councils in a Tehsil or Town. It is the responsibility of the Chief Election Commissioner to organize and conduct these elections. The categories wise total number of seats in a Union Council as well as all the Union Councils is as under:

     

    CATEGORY WISE NUMBER OF SEATS IN A UNION COUNCIL

    SI.No.

    Category

    Number of Seats

    1.

    Nazim/Naib Nazim

    2

    2.

    Muslim (General)

    4

    3.

    Muslim (Women)

    2

    4.

    Peasants/Workers

    3

    5.

    Peasants/Workers (Women)

    1

    6.

    Minority Communities

    1

    Total :

    13

     

    CATEGORY WISE NO. OF  SEATS IN ALL UNION COUNCILS

    SI.No.

    Category

    Number of Seats

    1.

    Nazim

    6,125

    2.

    Naib Nazim

    6,125

    3.

    Muslim (General)

    24,500

    4.

    Muslim (Women)

    12,250

    5.

    Peasants/Workers

    12,250

    6.

    Peasants/Workers (Women)

    12,250

     

    7.

     

    Minority Communities

     

    6,125

     

    Total :

     

    79,625

     

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     Qualification of a Voter

    • A person, who is a citizen of Pakistan, is not less than 18 years of age on the first day of January of the year in which the rolls are prepared or revised, is not declared by a competent court to be of un-sound mind and is or is deemed to be a resident of an electoral area, can get himself enrolled as a voter in that electoral area. The citizens registered on the electoral rolls are only eligible to cast their votes.

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    Electoral Procedure

    • For the conduct of elections to the National and Provincial Assemblies, the Election Commission appoints a District Returning Officer for each District and a Returning Officer for each constituency, who are drawn from amongst the officers of the Judiciary, the Federal/Provincial Government and Local Authorities. Returning Officers are mostly Additional District & Sessions Judges.
    • The list of polling stations is prepared by the Returning Officers and approved by the District Returning Officer. No polling station can be located in the premises of a candidate.
    • The list of Presiding Officers, Assistant Presiding Officers and polling staff is prepared by the Returning Officer and sent to the District Returning Officer for approval at least 15 days before the polls. The Presiding Officer is responsible for conducting polls at the Polling Station and maintaining law and order. He is assisted by the Assistant Presiding Officers and Polling Officer.
    • After the publication of Election Schedule by the Election Commission, nomination papers are invited from interested contesting candidates.
    • Scrutiny of nomination papers is carried out by the Returning Officers and nomination papers are accepted/rejected.
    • Appeals against rejection/acceptance of nomination papers are filed with the appellate tribunal, who decide such appeals summarily within such time as may be notified by the Commission and any order passed thereon shall be final.
    • Final list of contesting candidates is prepared and published in the prescribed manner by the Returning Officer after incorporation of the decisions on appeals and after withdrawal of candidature by the candidates if any.
    • Election Symbols are also allocated to the candidates by the Returning Officer according to their party affiliation or as an individual candidate, from the list of Election Symbols approved by the Election Commission. The Returning Officer also publishes the names of the contesting candidates arranged in the Urdu alphabetical order specifying against each the symbol allocated to him.
    • The Election Commission of Pakistan provides each Returning Officer with copies of voter’s list for his constituency who distributes it amongst the Presiding Officers in accordance with the polling scheme and assignment of voters to each polling station/booth.
    • Voters cast their votes at specified polling stations according to their names in an electoral rolls. Since the election for both National and Provincial Assemblies constituencies are held on the same day, the voter is issued two separate ballot papers for each National Assembly and Provincial Assembly constituency.
    • When an elector presents himself at the polling station to vote, the Presiding Officer shall issue a ballot paper to the elector after satisfying himself about the identity of the elector through his identity card.
    • Polling is held for nine hours on the polling day without any break.
    • Immediately after the close of the poll votes are counted at the polling stations by the Presiding Officers in presence of the candidates, their Election Agents, and Polling Agents.
    • After counting the ballot papers the Presiding Officer prepares a statement of the count indicating the number of votes secured by a candidate, and send it to the Returning Officer alongwith the election material, un-used ballot papers, spoilt ballot papers, tendered ballot papers, challenged ballot papers, marked copies of the electoral rolls, the counter-foils of used ballot papers, the tendered votes lists, and the challenged votes lists.
    • The Presiding Officers also announce the result of count at the polling stations and paste a copy of the result out-side the polling stations.
    • After the receipt of statement of counts from the Presiding Officers of the polling stations, the Returning Officer compiles the preliminary un-official result and intimates the results to the Election Commission through fax for announcement on print/electronic media.
    • After the announcement of un-official result, the Returning Officer serves a notice to all the contesting candidates and their election agents regarding the day, time and place fixed for consolidation of the result. In the presence of the contesting candidates and election agents, the Returning Officer consolidates the results of the count furnished by the Presiding Officers in the prescribed manner including postal ballot received by him before the polling day.
    • Immediately after preparing the consolidated statement the Returning Officer submits a copy to the Election Commission in the prescribed form which publishes the names of the returned candidates in the official Gazette.

     

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