ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has started preparation to hold Senate polls on 48 seats as a schedule of the polls is likely to be unveiled in the second week of February.
According to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the preparations will be completed in three phases across the country. Initially, training sessions are being conducted for concerned officials for the polls. Meanwhile, training of the polling staff will be completed in two phases.
The three-day training of the first batch will start next week on Saturday, Sunday and Monday which will be conducted by master trainers of ECP. The second batch of polling staff will join the training session from Tuesday to Thursday next week. Senior officers of all four provinces will also get training.
Besides, Deputation of returning officers and polling staff for the upcoming Senate polls will also begin in the coming month. The voting will be conducted on the basis of proportional representation and ‘single transferable vote’.
However, it is still undecided for holding the voting through secret or open ballot until a verdict came out on proceedings underway for the presidential reference. On January 16, ECP had opposed the presidential reference for holding Senate elections through an open ballot. In its reply submitted with the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the ECP rejected holding Senate polls through the open ballot.
It said that the Senate elections would be held as defined in article 59, 219 and 224 of the 1973 constitution. In its reply, ECP said that as per article 226 all elections under the Constitution, other than those of the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister, shall be held by secret ballot.
It said the constitution does not allow open ballot elections for Senate. The ECP has also given a reference to the Indian constitution in its reply submitted in the Supreme Court. The federal government had moved Supreme Court to seek its opinion over holding Senate elections through the open ballot.
A five-judge larger bench headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed and comprising of Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan and Justice Yahya Afridi is currently hearing the presidential reference.
The polls will be organized for 48 seats in the Upper House as legislators will vote for the candidates contesting on 11 seats each in Punjab and Sindh, 12 each in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and two in Islamabad.