- Poll results shatter PML-N’s dream to clinch Senate top slots, PPP, allies better placed to win majority
- PML-N bags 16 Senate seats, PPP wins 7, PTI bags six, MQM gets 4, NP and PKMAP win 3 seats each according to unofficial results
The Senate elections brought a mix bag of good and bad news for the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) as the party, which although claimed Punjab and Islamabad, fell short of its expected results in Balochistan where two of its candidates lost to political nobodies.
According to unofficial results, PML-N won 16 seats, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) got seven, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) bagged four, National Party and PkMAP got three seats each, BNP-M and JUI-F got one seat each while an independent candidate also became senator from Balochistan. The PML-N and its allied parties in the province including NP and PkMAP won nine seats.
The PPP now has strength of 26 members in Upper House of the Parliament while the PML-N has 24, drawing a close race for both the top slots of the Senate.
The Senate results shattered PML-N’s dream to clinch Senate top slots while PPP and its allies are now better placed to win majority in the Upper House of Parliament. However, PTI and JUI would be in a bargaining position with terms of Senate top slots as PML-N and PPP may win almost same numbers.
The allegations of horse trading, misuse of illicit money and change of loyalties during the Senate elections have however left a huge question mark over the credibility of the Upper House.
While the opposition parties accused the lawmakers of ruling PTI for stuffing the ballot boxes with plain papers instead of ballot papers, which according to the opposition were taken to chief minister’s house where the marked ballot papers were again stuffed into ballot boxes.
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice (r) Sardar Raza Khan took notice of the rigging allegations in KP Assembly and decided to conduct a probe into the same.
On the other hand, PTI and its allied parties, JI and AJIP accused the candidates of QWP and PPP of use of illicit money to win as many votes as possible from the PTI members.
The Senate elections brought embarrassment for the ruling PML-N on two counts– the setback in Balochistan and the promulgation of a presidential ordinance bringing changes in the right to vote for the FATA lawmakers to choose eight senators from FATA. Moreover, the PML-N lawmakers did not vote for their candidates in Sindh and Punjab assemblies.
Another blow to the election was that the PML-N, MQM and PPP got fake domiciles for their candidates to get them elected from the provinces they did not belong to, depriving the original residents of those provinces to represent them in the Parliament as Senate is the house which represents the four federating units of the country.
MEDIA BARRED FROM COVERING POLLS:
In an unprecedented move, the ECP barred reporters from covering the polling in all the four provincial assemblies and federal capital, which triggered an outrage and protest from the media. The media persons were not allowed to carry cameras into the assembly premises and press galleries were closed. The CCTV cameras were also closed.
UPSET IN BALOCHISTAN:
Speaking of Balochistan Assembly, the results were shocking for PML-N, which is the majority party in the assembly with 22 votes while four lawmakers of the PML-Q are also with the PML-N. However, despite this political strength, an independent candidate Yousuf Badini, turned tables on the ruling party’s veteran leader Sardar Yaqub Khan Nasir.
Moreover, the PML-N’s nominee for reserved seat for minorities, Dhanaish Kumar, also lost to Ashok Kumar of NP.
Pakistan Today had predicted the upset in Balochistan for the PML-N only a day before the election as the ruling party stood divided on ethnic lines as Baloch lawmakers refused to vote for Nasir, who is a Pashtun. They voted for Badini, who is ethnic Baloch–a billionaire who is a contractor by profession.
A source in the PML-N Balochistan said that Badini had covert support of SAFRON Minister Gen (r) Abdul Qadir Baloch and Nawab Sanaullah Zehri, both Baloch leaders, as both men were opposed to the nomination of Yaqub Khan Nasir who is a Pashtun. Badini got four PML-Q votes while five PML-N lawmakers voted for him, the source added.
The source said that Badini would soon join PML-N as Gen (r) Baloch and Nawab Zehri would press him to join their party.
The PML-N, PkMAP and NP won three seats each from Balochistan. Those elected as senators from Balochistan included Naimatullah Zehri, Shahbaz Durrani and Kalsoom Parveen of PML-N, Hasil Bizenjo, Mir Kabir Ahmad and Ashok Kumar of NP, Mohammad Usman Kakar, Sardar Mohammad Azam, Gul Bushra of PkMAP, Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri of JUI-F, Dr Jehanzaib Jamaldini of BNP-M while Yusuf Badini won as an independent candidate.
FATA ELECTION SUSPENDED:
In the meanwhile, voting for the four FATA seats was suspended for an indefinite period by the Election Commission following the issuance of presidential ordinance which was strongly contested by the FATA lawmakers who staged a protest against the promulgation of the ordinance.
The FATA MPAs said the government had prorogued the ordinance just to get favourable results of the election for four FATA seats. The ECP sources said the government would have to withdraw the ordinance to enable the ECP hold election for FATA.
A source in the ruling party said that the move was aimed at getting the election of chairman and deputy chairman of Senate postponed as the results depicted a defeat of the ruling coalition for both the top slots of Senate.
Political observers believe that the timing of the ordinance showed that the PML-N had failed in winning the loyalties of the independent candidates who were more tilted towards the JUI-F. Only PTI stood out as Imran Khan refused to accommodate senior party leaders from Punjab and Sindh to represent KP.
Since the JUI-F was inching toward an alliance with the PPP, the ruling party got the ordinance laid at the eleventh hour, in a bid to help block the election of FATA senators. The Election Commission did the same and postponed the elections till the ordinance is withdrawn.
PTI, ALLIES SECURE KP ASSEMBLY:
In KP Assembly, the ruling PTI and its allied parties, JI and Tarakai group, managed to secure their seven seats.
Polling in KP Assembly remained suspended for almost eight hours due to differences between the ruling PTI and opposition parties including PPP and ANP lawmakers over allegations of pouring in regular papers in ballot box.
However, after a series of talks, polling restarted around 4pm and continued till 9pm as the Election Commission had increased the polling time from 4pm to 9pm.
Ruckus in KP Assembly also resulted in delay of polling for Senate candidates for eight long hours. Later in the evening, the polling commenced and results were delayed. During counting, polling officials found eight blank papers while 123 members of the KP Assembly had cast their votes.
According to unofficial results at midnight, PTI managed to secure its minorities seat after its candidate John Kenneth William secured 70 votes.
PPP, MQM ALLIANCE WINS IN SINDH:
In Sindh Assembly, alliance between the PPP and MQM swept the polls. Majority of the members did cast their votes to elect its quota of seven senators from the province. As many as 163 members of Sindh Assembly out of 167 members cast their votes. All the five candidates of PPP emerged successful.
PPP’s Rehman Malik, Abdul Latif Ansari, Islamuddin Sheikh, Saleem Mandviwala, Gayan Chand and MQM’s Attique Shaikh and Khushbakht Shujaat were unofficially elected. Earlier, MQM’s Nighat Mirza and Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif and PPP’s Sassi Palejo and Farooq H Naek were elected unopposed on technocrats and women seats.
Malik and Mandivala got 20 votes each, Islamuddin Sheikh and Gayan Chand got 24 and 21 votes respectively, Ansari got 21 votes, while Khuhbakht and Attique got 21 votes each.
PML-F and allied parties failed to make any upset against PPP as two members of the PML-F voted in favour of PPP candidates while PML-N stood divided.
PML-N WINS PUNJAB, FEDERAL CAPITAL:
In the federal capital, the PML-N clinched both the seats as Iqbal Zafar Jhagra and Rahila Magsi won with majority while it also swept Punjab by bagging all the 11 seats.
PML-N’s Mushahidullah Khan, Pervaiz Rashid, Chaudhry Tanvir, Saleem Zia, Lt Gen (r) Abdul Qayyum, Ghaus Bakhsh Niazi, Nihal Hashmi, Raja Mohammad Zafarul Haq, Prof Sajid Mir, Najma Hameed and Ayesha Raza won from general, technocrats and women seats.
On the other hand, despite its tall claims, PPP could not get its candidate Nadeem Afzal Chan elected though Chan surprised many by bagging 27 votes. Another surprise was the fact that around 15 votes were declared invalid.