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September 5, 2018
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Ballots rejection in Punjab deliberate or unintentional?

National

September 5, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: No significant change of loyalties was witnessed in the presidential election as the three contestants polled as many votes as they were supposed to on the basis of the numerical strength of their backers in the electoral college comprising the federal parliament and four provincial assembly.

In the Senate and National Assembly, which voted together, the number of ballots secured by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led coalition’s winning nominee, Dr Arif Alvi, was equal to the combined tally of Maulana Fazlur Rehman, nominee of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and its allied opposition parties, and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) candidate Aitzaz Ahsan.

When Imran Khan was elected as the prime minister, he was supported by 176 members of the National Assembly (MNAs). Dr Alvi received 212 votes from the two parliamentary chambers. Assuming that he was backed by the same number of MNAs as Khan, the remaining 36 votes would have come from the Senate.

The losing prime ministerial candidate, Shahbaz Sharif, was backed by 96 MNAs, compared to the 131 votes won from both chambers by Fazlur Rehman. If the same 96 MNAs voted for Fazlur Rehman, the remaining 36 votes were contributed by the Senate.

The PPP, which has 54 MNAs, abstained from voting in the prime minister’s election. Aitzaz Ahsan obtained 81 votes in the presidential election. If all the PPP MNAs voted for him in the presidential election, the other 27 votes came from the Senate, where the PPP has a total of 20 senators.

The lawmakers of the PTI and its allies, PML-N and its opposition partners, and the PPP thus voted along party lines.

The PTI candidate for the deputy speaker of the Punjab Assembly, Dost Mazari, had bagged 187 votes, while PML-N contestant Iqbal Gujjar had got 159 ballots. Alvi secured 186 votes there, one less than by Mazari, whereas Fazlur Rehman secured 141 ballots against the 159 polled by Gujjar. If all the 18 votes rejected in the presidential election belong to the PML-N, then the total matches the 159 polled by Gujjar. It is not known whether these ballots were rejected due to deliberate or unintentional mistakes. Aitzaz Ahsan received the six votes of PPP in the provincial house.

While the votes bagged by Alvi, Fazlur Rehman and Aitzaz Ahsan in the Parliament corresponded to their respective backers' number of seats, the outcome was determined by the votes overwhelmingly cast in favour of the PTI candidate by members of the Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) assemblies .

As expected, the PPP defeated every opposing contestant in the Sindh assembly. The PML-N was expected to stand second in the Punjab assembly and it did. It got nothing from the Sindh legislature, as did the PPP from the Balochistan assembly.

The PPP expected that some relatively liberal MPs of the PML-N and its allies might not support Maulana Fazlur Rehman, but that does not seem to have happened because lawmakers adhered to party discipline. However, the PPP claimed to have received more votes from the electoral college than its actual number of seats, while Fazlur Rehman secured less than the votes of his sponsoring parties.

With the conclusion of the presidential election, the electoral cycle for top-level political positions stands completed.

The PTI has secured the election of its nominated president, prime minister, and governments in Punjab and KP, as well as that of a coalition partner in Balochistan.

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