Rawalpindi has also lost a provincial seat in the new constituencies like some other districts. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and political activists are criticising the Election Commission of Pakistan's (ECP) decision. However, they never challenged this move.
During the previous delimitation, the population of District Rawalpindi (including the tehsil of Murree) was approximately 54 lakhs. In the 2018 elections, seven national and 15 provincial constituencies were formed here. National constituencies had serial numbers from NA-57 to NA-63, while provincial constituencies started from PP-6 and ended at PP-20.
In the recent census, the population of Rawalpindi district (including Murree) was counted as 61 lakh 18 thousand 911. Due to the status of Murree as a district, now the population of Rawalpindi district (without Murree) is 57 lakh 45 thousand 964 while the population of Murree is 3 lakh 72 thousand 947.
According to the ECP’s preliminary report, Murree could not be given a separate national seat under the formula based on the population and quota. Therefore, Murree and Rawalpindi have been clubbed (joined), and seven national seats in both districts have been retained. Their new numbers are from NA-51 to NA-57.
The National Constituency NA-51 Murree Cum Rawalpindi has been formed by including Tehsils Kahuta and Kallar Syedan of the Rawalpindi district along with the Murree district. In 2018, Sadaqat Ali Abbasi won from this constituency of Murree on a PTI ticket.
The former prime minister of Pakistan, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi from the Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), lost against him.
In the new preliminary delimitation, Murree district has been declared a separate provincial constituency (while retaining its serial number PP-6). Muhammad Latasob Satti of PTI won this seat, while Raja Ashfaq Sarwar of PML-N lost.
Rawalpindi district now has 13 provincial seats. According to the ECP’s formula, the share of this district was 13.36 seats, according to the population of Rawalpindi district. However, 0.36 has been ignored. Now, these provincial constituencies start from PP-7 and end at PP-19.
In the new delimitation of the provincial constituencies of the district, many patwar circles and legislative constituencies have been shifted around. The populations of the dissolved constituencies have been added to the adjoining constituencies, and the population of the city constituencies has been increased accordingly.
Another development has been that some settlements of the Metropolitan Corporation have been added along with PP-10 of the Chakri constitution and PP-18 (old PP-19) of Taxila.
Currently, no objection has come on the records of the ECP on delimitation from the Murree district. However, 29 applications based on objections to Rawalpindi district constituencies have been submitted to the ECP.
These petitions are related to the removal of some populations from various provincial constituencies of Rawalpindi and the inclusion of other populations in them. No major objection has been raised by any prominent political leader or party.
However, Azhar Iqbal Satti, the son of Colonel Yusuf Satti, has submitted an application, which includes recommendations for changes and swaps in five provincial constituencies, namely PP-11 to PP-14 and PP-16.
PTI has expressed reservations over the new constituencies, while PML-N and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) seem satisfied.
Mehreen Anwar Raja, the candidate of PPP, says that the separation of the Murree constituency did not make a significant difference in the distribution of areas, but all the areas that were wrongly divided in 2018 have been rejoined, which will benefit the PPP.
PML-N leader Daniyal Chaudhry has expressed satisfaction over the distribution of national constituencies in Rawalpindi. He says there has been little change in the provincial constituencies, but this will benefit the PML-N candidates.
PTI North Punjab Spokesperson Ambreen Turk says that the PML-N, PPP, and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) were quick to accept the census results. Reducing six seats in the National Assembly (NA) is the first injustice.
She says that in Rawalpindi, too, there has been unnecessary upheaval to increase the number of seats after the census. “This is a violation of the principles of equal voting rights.”
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JUI Rawalpindi spokesperson Hafiz Ziaullah has also expressed concerns over the new constituencies. He says there is a lot of confusion in some constituencies and that he is concerned.
"People are being thrown back and forth. We have a lot of objections to the ECP’s actions. We are taking legal advice from our lawyers."
He says that the PP-11 constituency of Rawalpindi has been completely transformed. All the old Union Councils have been removed from the constituency, while a provincial constituency in Rawalpindi has already been reduced.
"The population has grown, but the constituencies have been reduced; it is unfair to the people here."
Published on 16 Nov 2023