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Even provincial minister fears horse-trading in Senate polls

By Javed Aziz Khan
March 03, 2018

PESHAWAR: A senior minister in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa cabinet as well as the provincial head of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) have asked the Election Commission of Pakistan to stop horse-trading in the Senate elections to be held today.

"The Election Commission should take notice of the feared horse trading in the Senate polls. It will be a stigma for the entire province if votes are sold for money in the election," KP Local Government Minister Inayatullah and JI provincial chief Mushtaq Ahmad Ahmad said in a joint statement on Friday.

Both the JI leaders said the Supreme Court of Pakistan should have taken notice of the alleged horse-trading in elections for the Upper House of parliament so that candidates are elected only on merit.

Mushtaq Ahmad Khan, hailing from Swabi district, is the JI candidate for a general seat in the Senate polls. JI, which the junior partner in the PTI-led coalition government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is likely to strike a deal with the opposition parties to win a seat for its provincial chief in the Senate election.

The JI on Tuesday held a long session with the opposition parties to finalise a deal under which they would likely support each other in the polls, a source told The News. The source said that the opposition parties had been asked to support the JI's Mushtaq Ahmad Ahmad for a general seat in the Senate. In return, the JI will vote for the candidates of other parties on reserved seats.

"We are hopeful that we will win one general seat in the Senate polls. We have been holding talks with different political parties and something will be finalised," Abdul Wasi, provincial general secretary of the JI, told The News. He added that JI currently had eight members in the KP Assembly.

A candidate for the general seat, however, needs to get a minimum of 14 or 15 votes to make it to the Upper House of Parliament. It remains to be seen whether JI manages to get the rest of the votes for its provincial chief as its eight votes aren't enough to win a seat.

JI's three MPAs are ministers in the provincial cabinet. However, the PTI and JI despite being coalition partners have contested all the by-election and local government polls independently and against each other.

The JI even criticised the PTI government for rigging in the local government elections in 2015. The allegations soured relations between the two coalition partners but they continued sharing the KP government.

The candidates of the two parties are once again running separately in the Senate election. The JI leadership has already planned to quit the KP government after the full revival of the religious alliance, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) in the coming days.

As per the commitment, the JI would quit the provincial government while JUI-F would leave the federal government to contest the coming general election from the platform of MMA. JI and other components of the MMA are not contesting the Senate election from the platform of the religious alliance and have fielded their own candidates.

Like JI, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl and other components of the MMA have also fielded their own candidates for the Senate polls. The MMA ruled Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for five years after it won the majority in the provincial assembly in the 2002 general election. The JUI-F was the major coalition partner as it had more seats in the assembly at the time. Chief Minister Akram Durrani also belonged to the JUI-F.