islamabad

Under the 18th Amendment, the independent candidates who have won the general seats of National Assembly or provincial assemblies in election will have the option to join any political party within three days after the issuance of a formal notification of their victory from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

After joining of any political party, they will be considered as ticket holder of that party and will come under defection clause if vote against the party in specific circumstances as described by the law. However, the independent candidates will have the option to remain as independent. According to unconfirmed and unofficial results, around 25 independent candidates have won election from National Assembly seats while 40 from Punjab Assembly, 10 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and four from Balochistan Assembly remained successful.

Under Article 51 of the Constitution, amended through the 18th Constitutional Amendment, the total number of general seats won by a 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.

The political parties would be allocated reserved seats for women and the reserved seats for non-Muslims on the basis of the total number of general seats including independent returned candidates. Under the law, if an independent winner will not join any political party within the prescribed deadline time, he would have this status of independent for the whole tenure of that National Assembly or provincial assembly.

The amendment in Article 51 of the Constitution had been made to avoid 'horse trading' as independent candidates used to remain busy changing their loyalties at a number of times during the tenure of any assembly in the past.