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March 6, 2018

Questions arise in wake of Senate election results in KP

National

March 6, 2018

PESHAWAR: The election of two senators from the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have left the ruling and opposition parties guessing and probing as to how more than two dozen legislators did not vote for their respective party candidates.

The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and joint opposition had formed different committees to block the way of expected "slipping" of their members before the polling. They had also tried to educate their legislators about the existing complicated procedure of the Senate election in which they had to tick mark for the first and second priorities while voting for general seats as well as the reserved seats for women and technocrats.

The PPP, with seven members including one Ziaullah Afridi, who had joined the party after his expulsion from PTI, had fielded Faisal Sakhi Butt and Bahramand Tangi on general seats, Rubina Khalid on women reserved seat and Dr Nisar on technocrat seat.

Faisal Sakhi Butt, whose three votes were rejected, had polled 10 votes, amounting to 1,000 points. His voters had written (01) on the ballot paper, apparently for identification to prove that they had voted for him.

The Election Commission of Pakistan officials rejected the three votes. It said that according to rules the voters could not write anything or put any symbol. The officials said such symbols were being put to prove they had voted for a specific person.

Faisal Sakhi Butt said he would challenge rejection of his votes in the court. He insisted there were his votes as voters polled for him. His supporters said that Faisal Sakhi Butt had obtained 1,000 points and if these three votes were counted then his points would rise to 1,300 and these were sufficient for the election of a senator. In such a case, his points would be more than that of his colleague, Bahramand Tangi, who was declared elected as Senator, and affect the election of the lone Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan.

One vote of Rubina Khalid, who got 3,532 points, was also rejected. Her voter had written (02) on the ballot paper.

The voters of Faisal Sakhi Butt and Rubina Khalid may know the meaning of such numbers but the Election Commission officials opined that writing numbers or symbols on the ballot were meant to convey the message to the candidate that a particular person had cast the vote as promised.

"We had heard that everything is fair in love and war but were unaware of such a formula under which a party could get votes in such a complicated election," said a former JI MPA. He said his party had neither such a huge amount nor would it indulge in horse-trading.

He quoted his party's central head Senator Sirajul Haq as saying that "the entire stable was bought instead of horses".

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has also alleged that Rs40 million had been given to buy one vote for the Senate. He said that he had discussed the matter with Chief Minister Pervez Khattak to probe and identify those who had sold their loyalties. Such sale and purchase of members was negation of democracy, he added.

Imran Khan said he had been pointing out that the political leaders were using money, in the Senate polls. He asked the Election Commission of Pakistan and Chief Justice of Pakistan to take notice of these malpractices so that this could be blocked in future. He said action would be taken against the PTI members who were found involved in the practice.

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