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March 6, 2015

Five PPP, two MQM candidates elected as senators


March 6, 2015

As expected the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and opposition party Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) bagged five and two seats, respectively, against the seven general Senate seats, in the elections held in the Sindh Assembly on Thursday.
Rehman Malik, Saleem Mandviwalla, Islamuddin Shaikh, Engineer Gianchand and Abdul Latif Ansari from the PPP and Mian Muhammad Ateeq Sheikh and Khushbakht Shujaat from the MQM were elected as senators.
The only losing candidate was Imamuddin Shoqeen, from opposition party Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F). Eight candidates had contested the Senate elections; five from the PPP, two from the MQM and one from the PML-F.
The fate of the lone PML-F candidate was sealed when four opposition MPAs of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) did not turn up to vote, in accordance with their party chairman’s decision. He was expected to receive at least 18 votes from lawmakers of the PML-F and PML-N, but Shoqeen was able to get only 13.
Another turning point of the day was when two opposition lawmakers of the National Peoples Party (NPP) did not vote for the PML-F candidate they were widely expected to support.
It was only after the results were announced that leader of the opposition, Shahrayar Khan Mahar of the PML-F, confirmed that the lawmakers had already apprised him of their decision.
Earlier, two candidates each from the PPP and MQM were elected unopposed on four reserved Senate seats — two for women and two for technocrats/ulema. They are Sassui Palejo and Farooq H Naek of the PPP, while Nighat Mirza Hina and Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif of the MQM.

Preliminary vote count
According to unofficial results announced by Sindh Election Commissioner Tariq Qadri, Islamuddin Sheikh bagged 22 votes, Khushbakht Shujaat and Mian Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh each obtained 22 votes, Gianchand and Saleem Mandviwalla each secured 21 votes, while Abdul Lateef Ansari and Rehman Malik each received 20

He said five elected Senators — Islamuddin Sheikh, Khushbakht Shujaat, Mian Ateeq Sheikh, Gianchand and Saleem Mandviwalla — were able to win the election on first priority of MPAs who voted in the election. Two candidates, Rehman Malik and Abdul Lateef Ansari, were able to win the election on basis of second priority.
He said according to the formula of voting for general Senate seats in Sindh, any candidate securing 21 votes could ensure his victory.
Out of all the 167 members of the Sindh Assembly who had registered to vote in the Senate elections in Sindh, 163 took part in the election since four PTI MPAs boycotted the proceedings.
Among those who did vote, 92 belonged to the PPP, 51 to MQM, 10 to PML-F, eight to PML-N and two were from the NPP.
Just a day earlier on Wednesday, the treasury benches had prolonged the session of the Sindh Assembly to get Asghar Ali Junejo officiated in place of PML-F’s Jam Madad Ali, who had been unseated by the election tribunal in Hyderabad.
The polling process began at 9am and continued till 4pm without any break. By 3 pm around 105 votes had been cast. Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah cast his vote around 3:35pm and his coordinator on culture Sharmila Farooqui arrived around 12:45pm to vote even though her wedding was scheduled for later that evening.
The son of former controversial home minister Dr Zulfiqar Mirza, Hasnain Mirza, also arrive in the House to cast his vote.
Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Khan Durrani said he was completely satisfied with the polling process and had heard no complaints from political quarters about any incidence of rigging, horse-trading or any other irregularity.
The two NPP lawmakers who unexpectedly had voted for PPP Senators, though didn’t admit to their change of heart, but their being surrounded from all sides by MPAs of the ruling party was enough to give their plan away.
They later confided that their party had had certain reservations with the PML-N, with whom the NPP was considering a merger in Sindh.
At around 4:40pm, Sindh information and local government minister Sharjeel Inam Memon was the first one to emerge from Committee Room No 1 where the votes were being counted and announce that five PPP candidates and two MQM candidates had won the Senate elections.
After he broke the news, activists, supporters, and lawmakers of PPP and the MQM took to vociferous sloganeering near the polling area in favour of their respective parties.
Talking to the media later to announce unofficial results, Sindh election commissioner Tariq Qadri said none of the parties had complained of any irregularity or rigging in the polling process.
He said the voting lawmakers were forbidden to carry cell phones with them to maintain the secrecy of the ballot as per directives of the Election Commission.
After the results were declared, leader of opposition Shaharyar Khan Mahar said the PML-F had expected 18 votes to be polled in favour of its Senate candidate.
He said only 13 votes had been cast for the candidate and this showed that horse-trading had taken place to lure the opposition lawmakers to vote in favour of the ruling party’s candidate.
He claimed that after the transparent ballot box used for polling was completely emptied for counting votes, two folded blank pieces of paper were retrieved from the box, casting serious doubts over the overall secrecy of the entire balloting process.
He said the blank paper chits might have been used to illegally siphon off from the polling area ballot papers of any of the two voting lawmakers, suspected by the PPP of not voting in its favour, so it would be better to get ballot papers stamped outside the polling area to ensure their victory.
Talking to the media later, information minister Sharjeel Memon denied all allegations of horse-trading in the election process.

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