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SHC Halts Counting of Votes from Disputed Reserved Seats in Presidential Election

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In a significant development, the Sindh High Court (SHC) has issued a directive to suspend the counting of votes from three contested reserved seats in the upcoming presidential election scheduled for March 9. This decision came as part of a hearing on a petition filed by the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC), advocating for the allocation of reserved seats for women and minorities in the Sindh Assembly.

The court’s short order explicitly stated that the votes from these disputed seats would not be tallied until a verdict is reached on the petition. Additionally, notices have been issued to concerned parties, including the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), with a deadline for response set for March 28.

The plea filed by the SIC, backed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-affiliated independent candidates, underscores the urgency and significance of the matter. Notably, the ECP had previously declared the PTI-backed SIC ineligible for the reserved seats allotted to women and minorities, prompting legal action.

In response to the ECP’s decision, the PTI-backed SIC approached the Peshawar High Court (PHC), which subsequently barred the oath-taking of lawmakers notified on the contested reserved seats. A stay order was issued, preventing members from being sworn in, while the ECP was directed to provide a response to the matter.

The legal battle extended further as the SIC sought relief from the Lahore High Court (LHC) against the ECP’s decision regarding reserved seats in Punjab, highlighting the multifaceted nature of the dispute across various regions of Pakistan.

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