Multiple seats.

A PRIVATE bill moved in the National Assembly on Thursday by an opposition lawmaker seeking limits on the number of seats a candidate can run for in elections raises a key issue affecting Pakistan's electoral dynamics. Tabled in the Lower House by Jamaat-i-Islami MNA Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali, the proposed bill seeks to prevent candidates from running on more than two seats simultaneously. While the trend of running from multiple constituencies, often in different parts of the country, is not a new one, the issue attracted greater attention when PTI chief and former premier Imran Khan coasted to victory in six of the seven constituencies he stood from in last month's by-elections. That Mr Khan did not intend to return to the Assembly and simply ran to make a political statement is another story. However, as the JI lawmaker rightly pointed out in the House, when candidates who are elected from multiple seats choose one and vacate the others, this results in a 'grave injustice with voters as well as great loss to the national kitty'. Maulana Chitrali, citing ECP figures, said that conducting elections in one constituency costs the nation Rs20.7m. Surely a country battling a grave financial crisis cannot afford the luxury of spending taxpayers' money on repeated by-polls.

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