ISLAMABAD - The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has announced to hold Senate elections on March 2. The commission on Thursday released detailed schedule for the Upper House polls.

The ECP issued notifications to elect member to the Senate. Provincial assemblies of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan would each elect seven members for general seats, two for reserved women seats and two reserved technocrats’ seats. The provincial assembly would also elect one Senator each against the seats reserved for non-Muslims. Thus four minority members will join the Upper House for the first time in history.

National Assembly members would elect to the Senate one member against a general seat and another against the seat reserved for technocrats, including those from the federal capital. Members of NA from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) would elect four senators against general seats.

According to a notification, the ECP has set February 13 and 14, the dates for filing of nomination papers with the Returning Officers, between 0900 hours to 1600 hours. The scrutiny of nomination papers would be conducted on February 16 and 17.The candidates could file appeals by February 20 and 21 against the decision of the Returning Officers regarding acceptance and rejection of nomination papers. February 22 and 23 are the dates set for disposal of appeals. The date for withdrawal of candidature has been set for February 24 while the lists of candidates would be published on February 24.

The new members would be elected in place of those senators who are due to retire after the expiration of their term of office on March 11, 2012. Some 50 senators are scheduled to retire in March but polling would be held on 54 Senate seats following the addition of four minority seats as the 18th constitutional amendment provides for 104 Senate seats now against the previous 100. Polling would be held on March 2 from 0900 hours to 1600 hours in the respective provincial assemblies. To elect four representatives form FATA and two from Islamabad, the polling would be held in National Assembly.

The Senate is a permanent legislative body and term of its members is six years. However, one-half of its members retire after every three years.

A person seeking election to the Senate should not be less than 30 years of age and should be a registered voter in an area or province from where he seeks election and should meet other qualifications prescribed under articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution.

Half of senators in the 100-member House are completing their stipulated tenure in March who will be replaced by others winning the upcoming election.