PILDAT-UNDP Forum Debates Multiple Constituency Candidacies in Pakistan


December 19; Reform proposals on a constitutional amendment to limit the number of constituencies for contesting elections were discussed at the Consultative Forum organized by PILDAT in collaboration with the UNDP Pakistan.

Ms. Mary Cummins, Chief Technical Advisor UNDP Pakistan, extended a warm welcome to the attendees in her opening address. She emphasized that UNDP’s role is to facilitate discussion and foster informed viewpoints on various issues while maintaining neutrality in domestic political affairs.

Mr. Faheem Ahmed Khan, Senior Projects Manager, PILDAT welcomed the participants and gave an overview of the current constitutional provisions and practices in Pakistan regarding multiple candidacies. He said that Article 223 (2) of the Constitution of Pakistan allows a person to be a candidate from two or more seats at the same time. He also quoted examples from the 1970, 1993, 1997 and 2018 elections when Mr. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto contested elections from 6 NA constituencies in 1970, Mr. Nawaz Sharif in 1993 contested elections from 3 constituencies and 1997 Mr. Imran Khan contested elections from 8, and then again in 2018 from 5 National Assembly constituencies. Mr. Khan also referred to the case of India and Bangladesh which have limited the number of constituencies for one individual 3 and 2 respectively. He stressed that the in-coming National Assembly may learn from the international practices and work towards developing a consensus on moving the constitutional amendment to this effect.

Senator Mr. Taj Haider (PPP) said that the discussion on the topic is of no consequence as it does not affect the common man. The issue at hand is the holding of free and fair elections and this is what we should be concentrating on. He said that it is the fundamental right of an individual to contest elections and should be respected. Any amendment to Article 223 of the constitution to limit the number of constituencies will be against the basic human rights of the individual.

Mr. Farhat Ullah Babar, Former Senator and Head of the Manifesto Committee of PPP was of the view that the political party leader or his nominee should have the right to contest elections from four constituencies, one from each province just to demonstrate the unity of the federation and no other party leader should be allowed to contest from more than 2 constituencies.

Senator Kamran Murtaza of JUI said that such a session should be held right after the elections again so that the new parliament can debate and legislate on the issue.

The participants of the session were unanimous in demanding that the candidates should be restricted to 2 constituencies and if they wish to contest more constituencies it should not be on the taxpayer’s account.

Following were the participants of the session:

Mr. Nasrullah Randhawa, Ameer-Islamabad, Jamat e Islami Pakistan (JI-P), Senator Mr. Taj Haider, Senate of Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP), Mr. Farhatullah Babar, Former Senator, PPP, Mr. Musadaq Ghumman, Pakistan Tehreek e insaf (PTI), Mr. Iftikhar Ahmed, PTI, Senator Mr. Kamran Murtaza, Jamiat ulema Islam-Pakistan (JUI-P); Mr. Zahid Abdullah, RTI and Inclusion Advisor, Centre for Policy Development and Initiative (CPDI); Dr. Alamzeb Khan, Assistant Professor, School of Law, Quaid e Azam University (QAU), Dr. Yasir Hussain, Assistant Professor, Department of English, QAU, Dr. Mansoor Kundi, Former Vice Chancellor, Bahaudin Zikrya University, Dr. Qamar Cheema, Assistant Professor, Department of International Relations, National University of Modern Languages (NUML), Ms. Quratulain, NUML, Dr Aleem Gilani, Assistant Professor, Department of International Relations (IR), Bahria University (BU), Dr Adam Saud, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, BU, Dr Umar Hayat, Senior Associate Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences BU, Ms. Ayesha Ali, Deputy Director, Higher Education Commission (HEC). Mr. Tahir Khalil, Bureau Chief-Islamabad, JANG, Mr. Aamir Wasim, Bureau Chief-Islamabad, DAWN, Mr. Naveed Malik, President, Islamabad High Court Bar Association (IHCBA), Mr. Adil Aziz Qazi, Advocate Supreme Court, Raja Haziq Rauf, Advocate Islamabad High Court/Islamabad Bar Council, Mr. Sheraz Khan, Advocate Islamabad High Court, Mr. Abdul Rauf, Advocate Islamabad High Court, Mr. Lal Zaman, Programme Manager, Hanns Seidel Foundation Pakistan, Ms. Mary Cummins, Chief Technical Advisor UNDP Pakistan and Mr. Qasim Janjua, Programme Advisor, UNDP Pakistan.