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November 16, 2018

PTI wins both Senate seats from Punjab

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November 16, 2018

LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf candidates, with the support of its main ally Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) won both the vacant seats of Senate from Punjab after a neck-and-neck contest with Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N).

However, the PML-N once again showed an increase in its vote bank in the Punjab Assembly as the PML-N candidates got four votes more than the joint strength of the opposition in the PA, whereas the ruling party candidates got around 10 votes less than the collective strength of the treasury benches.

Out of the total 369 members of the Punjab Assembly, 367 cast their votes. Two members, Awais Dareshak of the PTI and Sohail Shaukat Butt of the PML-N, could not participate in the process due to their absence from the country. Nine votes were rejected for the women reserved seat and seven for the general seat.

On the general seat, PTI candidate Waleed Iqbal, grandson of national poet Allama Muhammad Iqbal, emerged victorious with 184 votes against 176 of PML-N’s Saud Majeed. The difference of votes between the winning candidate and the runner-up was only eight votes.

Similarly, for the women reserved seat, it was Seemi Ezdi of PTI who emerged victorious and got 183 votes against Saira Afzal Tarar of the PML-N, who secured 175 votes. Tanzeela Imran, the covering candidate who didn’t withdraw her nomination papers, also got three votes which were declared rejected as she was considered a ‘retired’ candidate.

The polling process started at 9am and continued till 4pm whereas the proceedings were presided over by Chief Election Commissioner Punjab Zafar Iqbal. Both these seats were won by the PML-N in the March Senate elections. However, the seats fell vacant as a result of disqualification of Haroon Akhtar Khan and Saadia Abbasi over their dual nationality.

The PML-N has lost two more seats in the upper house of the Parliament and with the addition of two seats, the PTI strength has reached 14. After the declaration of the result, the PTI MPAs and its activists gathered on the stairs of the Punjab Assembly and chanted slogans in favour of the party leadership. Waleed Iqbal and Seemi Ezdi, in their separate victory speeches, thanked the Punjab Assembly MPAs, PTI parliamentary party and its main ally, the PML-Q for extending support to them.

Waleed Iqbal said he was grateful to his leader Imran Khan for showing confidence in him and also lauded the efforts made by Speaker Punjab Assembly Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi for his victory.

Mian Memhoodur Rasheed, the provincial minister, who reached the Punjab Assembly after midday, was presented with the PTI winning candidates at the time of media talk. To a question about the PTI candidates getting less votes, he said the Senate polls were a very technical issue. He said the PTI MPAs were also imparted training over the Senate by-polls, but sometimes due to error, votes were cast wrongly. He also said that the PTI would also probe the reasons why its candidates received less votes.

Saud Majeed, the PML-N candidate, told the media the results clearly indicated that cracks had started appearing in the ranks of the government. He said the PML-N and the PPP jointly had 173 votes whereas he got 176 and three votes that were cast in his favour were declared rejected. In this way, he said his actual votes were 179.

The victory of the PTI candidates with a margin less than 10 votes has once again raised many doubts regarding internal rifts and resentment against the leadership in the ranks of Tehreek-e-Insaf.

As per the claimed strength of PTI in Punjab, its government enjoys the support of 195 MPAs which include 180 of Tehreek-e-Insaf, 10 of the PML-Q, one of Rah-e-Haq Party and four independents. However, its candidates got 11 votes less than its collective and claimed strength.

The PML-Q, a party with 10 seats in the Punjab Assembly, once again came as rescuer for the PTI in by-polls in which its candidates won with a margin of eight votes against the opposition candidates. Throughout the day, it was Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, Speaker Punjab Assembly and Law Minister Raja Basharat who remained active in lobbying for the PTI candidates whereas most of the ministers either turned up to the Punjab Assembly very late or left it very early.

In the last Senate by-election, held on Oct 3, on the seat vacated by Chaudhry Sarwar who took oath as the Punjab governor, PTI candidate Dr Shahzad Waseem won the seat with a margin of 12 votes. Dr Shahzad had got 181 votes, followed by 169 of Khawaja Ahmed Hassan.

This was for the third time the PTI defeated the PML-N in the Senate elections in Punjab in the year 2018. For the first time, it was in March when Chaudhry Sarwar, the only PTI candidate running for the general seat, caused an upset and won the seat, despite the fact that PTI was short of numbers. In that contest, PTI candidate Chaudhry Sarwar stood at number one position on the general seat and got 54 votes. PTI’s total strength at that time was 34 and Sarwar got 20 votes more than the existing strength of the PTI.

Later, in the month of October, on the seat vacated by Chaudhry Sarwar, it was PTI’s Dr Shahzad Waseem who won after a close contest with PML-N’s Khwaja Ahmed Hassan. In that contest, the PTI candidate got 181 votes and Khwaja Hassan of PML-N got 169. On Thursday, once again the PTI continued its winning streak in the Senate by-polls, but this time, the margin between victory and defeat was very thin.

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