After Nowshera, Rawalpindi. This should lead the ruling party to do a lot of soul searching. In the most hotly contested Senate election, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s candidate Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has been defeated by the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s Yousuf Raza Gilani. Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry had earlier claimed that Shaikh would get over 180 votes, but the finance minister ended up with 164, losing the election by five votes.
There were already reports in the media of widespread resentment among PTI legislators over the allotment of ticket to a man who had no affiliation with the party and was sure to leave the country after losing his job. Some of the dissenters had come out into the open. Sensing the danger, Prime Minister Imran Khan had set aside all official activities to personally canvass for his finance minister. That even the PTI chief failed to persuade the dissidents indicates the depth of resentment against Shaikh.
Many would interpret the debacle as a rebellion against the decisions taken by the party leadership without caring for the party workers’ opinions, which is unfortunately all too common among the country’s major political parties. The dissidents have not only voted against Shaikh but have also revolted against the party chief.
That PTI’s Fauzia Arshad has won the women’s seat, defeating the PDM’s Farzana Kausar, again indicates that party dissidents stood by a well-known PTI worker but refused to support a technocrat who they thought was being imposed on them.
Former premier Yousaf Raza Gillani’s victory has boosted the morale of the PDM which might now go for a no-confidence move against the PM. The government spokesmen are claiming that some of the voters had been bribed to go against the party’s whip. If the claim is accepted, this would raise questions about the moral health of the PTI. A video and a short audio script are being used to prove that money played a role in determining the results. The Election Commission of Pakistan needs to conduct a thorough and transparent inquiry into the allegations.
Meanwhile, instead of indulging in its favourite blame game, the PTI would do well to do some brainstorming after the loss of two elections within a fortnight.