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March 5, 2009

PPP emerges as majority party in Senate polls

March 5, 2009

ISLAMABAD: The ruling Pakistan People’s Party on Wednesday emerged as the majority party in the Senate after Wednesday’s elections as now the party holds 27 seats, followed by PML-Q’s 22 senators.

19 candidates - PPP’s five two each of ANP and JUI-F, one each of BNP-Awami and National Party and eight independent were elected as Senators from Balochistan, NWFP and Fata in the Senate elections.

The Election Commission of Pakistan is expected to notify names of the returned candidates today (Thursday). Candidates on 31 seats already had returned unopposed. Polling for remaining 19 seats was held on Wednesday at the Parliament House, NWFP Assembly and Balochistan Assembly.

In all, out of 50 seats, PPP got eight seats from Sindh, four from Punjab, two from the Federal Capital, five from the NWFP and three from Balochistan, whereas one senator supported by it in the province could go its way in the House. The party’s Mian Raza Rabbani, Dr Babar Awan, Dr Safdar Abbasi, Ratna Chowla and Dr Javed Leghari are already in the Senate.

From the federal capital, both seats went to PPP as Nayyar Bokhari and Dr Saeeda Iqbal returned unopposed. Engineer Rasheed, Haji Khan Afridi, Abbas Khan and Idrees Saafi were elected from Fata, polling for which was held at the Parliament House’s committee room No 2.

Out of 11 Fata MNAs, nine participated in voting, whereas two stayed away, though the polling staff of the Election Commission waited for them before they started counting of votes. Thirty-four candidates were in the turn for four Fata seats. They are Munir Khan Orakzai, Bilal Rehman, Sajid Hussain, Jawad Hussain, Kamran Khan, Abdul Malik Wazir, Shaukatullah, Zafar Baig Bhittani and Noorul Haq Qadri.

Having differences with these nine lawmakers, Hameedullah Jan Afridi and Akhunzada Chittan did not turn up for casting their votes. The Senate will meet for its session on March 12 for the oath-taking of 50 newly-elected senators,

whereas in the evening, the election of the Senate chairman and deputy chairman will be held.

Among parties having representation in the Senate, JUI-F now has 10 senators, PML-N 7 seats, ANP and MQM 6 each, JI 4, BNP-Awami and National Party 2 seats each. Muhammad Ejaz Khan adds from Quetta: The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) emerged as the major political party securing maximum chunk of three seats in the Senate elections from Balochistan, while JUI-F could secure two seats here on Wednesday.

The polling for the Senate polls was held at the Balochistan Assembly chambers. Provincial Election Commissioner Sono Khan Baloch, who was the Returning Officer for the Senate polls in the province, supervised the polling. All the 63 members of the Balochistan Assembly used their right of franchise. However, one ballot for the women seats was rejected due to the identification marks.

The elections were held for 11 different seats from the province including seven general, two technocrats and even number of the women reserved seats. Those elected on the PPP tickets included: Nawabzada Lashkari Raisani, who also happens to be the PPP president in Balochistan, Sabir Ali Baloch and Ms Surriya Amiruddin.

The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl stood second in the tally with two seats of Senate. Secretary General of JUI-F Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri retained his seat while JUI-F Provincial Ameer Maulana Muhammad Khan Shirani also made his way into the Senate on the technocrat seat.

Balochistan National Party-Awami (BNP-A) and National Party also clinched one seat each with their candidates Muhammad Ali Rind and Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo becoming the members of the Upper House.

Four independent candidates were also elected in the Senate elections. They include: Humayun Khan Mandokhel, Akbar Magsi, Ms Kalsoom Parveen and Wali Muhammad Badini. It may be mentioned here that 63 members of the provincial assembly cast their votes as only two MPAs including Ms Samina Raziq and Sardar Yar Muhammad Rind did not appear for casting votes.

Speaker Balochistan Assembly Muhammad Aslam Bhotani was the first among the parliamentarians to cast vote in the polls. He cast his vote at around 9:15am. The PML-Q Mir Shoaib Nausherwani was the second to cast his vote followed by Chief Minister Balochistan Nawab Muhammad Aslam Raisani.

Strict security measures were adopted on the occasion. The educational institutions located on Zarghoon road were closed for activities. Syed Bukhar Shah adds from Peshawar: All four nominees of the ANP and PPP ruling alliance, Afrasiyab Khattak and Adnan Khan were elected senators on technocrat seats while Farah Aqil Shah and Farhat Abbas on women reserved seats in the election held in the strictly guarded NWFP Assembly on Wednesday.

Provincial president of the ANP and peace envoy, Afrasiyab Khattak obtained 55 and Adnan Khan of the PPP got 45 votes, respectively. The ANP and PPP nominees on women reserved seats, Farah Aqil Shah and Farhat Abbas also grabbed 55 and 45, respectively.

The coalition partner — ANP and PPP — having 47 and 30 members in the House of 124, had already elected its seven candidates on general seats unopposed along with one of the JUI-F, which has 14 MPAs.

The PML-N having nine MPAs had fielded its Central Secretary General Iqbal Zafar Jhagra who got nine votes. Later, he complained that the PPP had assured him of its support if he withdrew his nomination on general seat, but that commitment was not honoured.

Jhagra said he paved the way for unopposed election of senators on general seats and blocked the way of horse-trading in the province. There, he said, would be sale and purchase of loyalties if he had not withdrawn his papers on the general seat.

The JUI-F, having 14 legislators, had already succeeded in getting Haji Ghulam Ali elected as Senator on the general seat with the consensus of the ruling alliance. It also fielded Shahida Akhtar Ali on women reserved seat and she obtained her party’s 14 votes and could not succeed in making it to the Upper House of the Parliament. However, Aneesa Zeb Tahirkheli of the PPP-Sherpao got nine votes while her party’s strength in the provincial legislature is five of whom two were already supporting the ruling ANP-PPP coalition.

The same was the case with an independent candidate, Ali Gohar, who received 14 votes. Contrary to the tradition and previous elections, journalists were not allowed to cover the Senate election. The apparent reason was stated to be the coverage of the presidential elections wherein the representatives of the ruling alliance had been directed to show their votes to the government’s monitors before casting it into the ballot boxes. The media had highlighted the unconstitutional practices, which the government had resented.

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