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PML-N’s Dr Asad elected as senator from Punjab with 298 votes

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March 2, 2018

LAHORE: Dr Asad Ashraf, supported by the ruling PML-N, won the by-election for a Senate seat vacated from Punjab after disqualification of Nehal Hashmi by a sweeping margin of 260 votes.

According to unofficial results, a total of 350 votes were casted out of which Dr Asad got 298 votes against 38 of his rival PTI candidate Dr Zarqa Taimur. The ECP declared 12 votes invalid while two votes were cancelled. Out of the cancelled votes one was cancelled when Malik Muhammad Waheed MPA from PP-146 was found guilty of exploiting secrecy of ballot when he showed his marked ballot to Punjab Minister Food Bilal Yasin. The second vote was cancelled because it had been torn/ damaged.

The PTI candidate got 30 of her party’s votes, of three independent members – Ali Salman, Siddiq Nasrullah Dreshak, and Ahsan Riaz Fatyana –and five from PMLQ – Waqas Moakel, Amir Sultan Cheema, Khadija Farooqi, Baasima Chaudhry and Ahmad Shah Khagga. The PPP abstained from voting because it neither fielded a candidate nor wanted to vote for a PTI nominee.

While the voting pattern did not hint at any major shift and voting against party lines, there were MPAs who believed it could well be that the opposition alliance didn’t wish to show their hand before the Senate elections on Saturday. While the alternate view was that had the opposition alliance managed to get more votes than their house strength, it would have set the cat among the pigeons in the treasury camp and set off a distrust panic which could have benefitted the opposition candidates on Saturday.

PTI polling agent MPA Arif Abbasi and Opposition Leader Mian Mahmood-ur-Rasheed told media around 1pm that there were gross violations of the ECP code of conduct by the PML-N. They alleged that the votes of those members who had expired assembly cards should not have been allowed. They said they would take the matter of Malik Waheed to the ECP and would request for cancellation of his membership.

Earlier, polling started at the scheduled time of 9am and continued till 4pm. The PML-N had allocated sets of MPAs to different key provincial party leaders like Chief Whip Rana Arshad and others. They were given lists of 48 MPAs each to ensure their attendance and casting of votes.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who casted his vote at around 2pm, told media that the PML-N MPAs were united under the party flag as they believed in the principles and ideology of PML-N and had seen the massive public support at every public meeting across the country. He expressed hope that the people of Pakistan would appreciate the development and welfare work done by the PML-N and express their approval through the power of their vote in the 2018 general elections.

Dr Asad dedicated his victory to his party’s supreme leader Nawaz Sharif and vowed to continue his political journey under the leadership of Sharifs. In his victory speech outside Punjab Assembly, he announced surrendering his ‘independence’ before the party leadership. “Currently, I am independent, but will once again prove myself as the follower of Nawaz and Shahbaz after taking oath in a few days. They cannot distance me from my party,” said Dr Asad amid slogans of ‘Dekho Dekho Kaun Aya, Sher Aya, Sher Aya” by the PML-N MPAs.

“I filed nomination papers as a PML-N candidate but was made to contest as an independent candidate through a decision on the last date of withdrawal. And now after winning the poll, I am surrendering this independence of mine before my party Quaid Nawaz Sharif,” said Dr Asad.

Dr Asad is a brother of late Javed Ashraf, a staunch PML-N loyalist and campaign in-charge of Shahbaz from the then NA-96 who lost his life as a result of clash with police during Tehreek-e-Nijat against the Benazir Bhutto-led PPP government.

After completing MBBS from Allama Iqbal Medical College in 1986, Dr Asad served as consultant cardiology at Services Hospital till 1996. After the tragic killing of his brother on April 4, 1996, he formally joined the PML-N. He was made adviser to the chief minister following the victory of PML-N in 1997 elections and held this office till October 12, 1999.

While PML-N was going through turmoil and the Sharif brothers were living in exile in the 2002 general elections, Dr Asad was fielded as the party candidate from PP-138. After a tough contest, he emerged victorious over the PPP and PML-Q candidates.

In 2008 polls while the Sharifs were back in Pakistan, Dr Asad won the same seat again by defeating the PPP and PML-Q candidates as well as former MPA Qaiser Amin Butt who contested as independent.

From 2008 to 2013, Dr Asad held different assignments related to health sector and also headed the task force on dengue and polio eradication. After the removal of graduation bar which brought many under-graduates to assemblies, Dr Asad wasn’t awarded ticket by the party but he continued playing his role in the PML-N in different capacities. In the recent NA-120 by-poll in which the PML-N fielded Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, Dr Asad looked after the election affairs. And now, he was awarded Senate ticket for a vacant seat and got elected to the Upper House of Parliament.

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