ECP Halts Certifications for 77 Reserved-Seat Lawmakers Amid Supreme Court Review

ISLAMABAD: In a significant development, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has suspended the victory notifications of 77 lawmakers elected to national and provincial assemblies on reserved seats, following a directive from the Supreme Court. This decision comes in the wake of the apex court’s suspension last week of a Peshawar High Court judgment that had earlier denied the PTI-backed Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) representation in these seats.

The affected legislators include 44 from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), 15 from the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), 13 from the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), and one each from the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), Islami Pasand Party (IPP), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-Punjab (PTI-P), Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), and Awami National Party (ANP).

This suspension shifts the balance of power in the lower house of parliament, where the ruling coalition’s strength has diminished from 228 to 209 members, losing the two-thirds majority required for key legislative actions. The number needed for such a majority in the 336-member house is 224.

The implications of this suspension are extensive, not only affecting the legislative process but also raising uncertainties about the recently elected senators whose positions depend on the votes of these now-suspended assembly members.

A senior ECP official highlighted the unprecedented nature of this case, noting that its resolution awaits the final judgment of a five-member bench of the Supreme Court. The official confirmed that the interim relief granted to the SIC has been put into effect.

The suspension also complicates the formation of standing committees in the National Assembly, which are mandated to be established within 30 days following the election of the Prime Minister. Over two months have passed since the prime ministerial election on March 3, suggesting significant delays in legislative operations are imminent.

A detailed breakdown of the suspensions reveals significant impacts across several assemblies:

National Assembly: 22 members elected on reserved seats for women and minorities are suspended, affecting members from all major parties.
Punjab Assembly: 24 members elected on reserved seats for women, with the majority from PML-N, along with three members on seats reserved for non-Muslims.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly: 21 women’s seats are impacted, along with four reserved for minorities.
Sindh Assembly: Three members, including two from PPP and one from MQM, are suspended.
The situation remains fluid, and the political landscape is poised for potential shifts depending on the final verdict of the Supreme Court.