What’s next for independent candidates after election triumph?

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In a stunning turn of events, PTI-backed independent candidates stole the show on February 8, emerging as a key player in Centre and two provincial assemblies – Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

The results of 257 out of the total 265 National Assembly constituencies where elections were held had been announced, which showed the independent candidates in the lead with 102 seats overall. The PML-N and PPP had won 73 and 54 seats, respectively, and were set to bag most of the 70 reserved seats for women and non-Muslims in the house.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement had bagged 17 seats, while the PML-Q had three. The JUI-F and Istehkam-i-Pakistan Party (IPP) had secured three and two seats, respectively. MWM and BNP had clinched one seat each.

Read More: 🔴Pakistan General Elections 2024 Live Results and Updates

With traditional party lines blurred, these independent candidates now find themselves at a pivotal crossroads, facing a myriad of options to determine their political fate. Amidst the clamor of speculation and anticipation, questions loom large: What s next for the independents? Will they band together to form a group? Or will they join established parties?

The options

Under Rule 92(6) of the election rules, independent candidates will have three days following the notification of their victory to join a party. Another option is that they may be able to form a group with any name they like.

If they form a group and choose to sit in the opposition, they will be in a comfortable position to clinch the office of Opposition Leader in the National Assembly.

Rule 92 (6) also reads, “For the purpose of this rule, the expression total number of general seats won by political party shall include the independent returned candidate or candidates who may duly join such political party within three days of the publication in the official Gazette of the names of the returned candidates.”

A proviso to the rule stated, “Provided that if the independent candidate applies to the leader of a political party for joining his party, then the leader of that political party will forthwith inform the [Election] Commission of joining of such candidate through a letter to be delivered to the Commission along with the consent of that candidate duly attested by a Notary appointed under the Notaries Ordinance, 1961 (XIX of 1961) or an Oath Commissioner appointed under the Oaths Act, 1873 (X of 1873) or a Government servant in basic pay scale 17 and above: Provided that the consent of the independent candidate so delivered to the Commission shall, in no circumstances, be open to recall or cancellation.”

If the independents form a group, then they won’t be able to get reserved seats. There are 60 seats reserved for women and 10 for minorities in the house of 342.

As the nation watches with bated breath, the choices made by these independents will undoubtedly reshape the political landscape for years to come.

 

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