Delay in Election of Women and Minorities<br>By Robin Farnadez


KARACHI: Oct. 22. Confusion over the make-up of the new parliament appears to be growing as the authorities have put on hold the election of women and minority deputies. There has been no official explanation for the delay in the election of women a

Opponents of President Pervez Musharraf say his military backers haven't ironed out the kinks from among a likely PML-Q-led coalition, or even finalised their nominee for prime minister as yet. Still, the Pakistani news media, along with political parties and the candidates themselves, are baffled by the delay. "Why have not elections been held so far to the reserved seats in the lower house (of parliament)?" asked the influential Dawn newspaper. Attempting to answer the question itself, the paper surmised in an editorial that the government may be waiting for the independents "to show their hands". Under a new law, however, independent candidates are required to choose a political party within a period of three days of the Election Commission's notification of the final results. Another reason for the confusion is the last-minute withdrawal of a condition allowing only those politicial parties securing a minimum 5 percent of the general seats a stake in the special seats. It is not clear how this would impact on the election of women and minority members, most of whom appear to be at sea with the latest revision. This week the Pakistani press advised the government to get on with "the business of holding the election to reserved seats". Such a step would allow the assembly to elect the speaker and deputy speaker respectively, without having to decide the contours of a coalition government. Newspapers have warned that the political situation could become complicated if the election of women and minorities is delayed any further.

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