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Imran to seek trust vote: Political setback for govt

Top Story

March 4, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf notched up the top score in the Senate election Wednesday with 18 seats followed by PPP’s eight.

Despite emerging as the largest party in the Upper House, the PTI suffered a defeat at the hands of PDM’s Yusuf Raza Gilani who managed to get the Islamabad general seat from PTI’s Hafeez Sheikh. Gilani’s victory was a shocker for the PTI government, forcing PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari to triumphantly tweet: "Democracy is the best revenge. Jeya Bhutto!"

Gilani got 169 votes against Sheikh’s 164. Seven votes were rejected. Votes were counted twice --- second time at the request of government legislators. According to the unofficial results, the PTI is the top victor and now enjoys 26 seats in the Senate.

Among the two major opposition parties, the PPP closely follows with a total of 20 seats after winning eight today, while the PML-N now has 18 after winning five. The opposition gains control of the Upper House with 53 seats while the PTI-led alliance has 47 senators

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that Prime Minister Imran Khan would seek a vote of confidence from parliament following the results of the Senate poll. Addressing a hurriedly called press conference here along with several other federal ministers, Qureshi said that Imran Khan had said that he was the prime minister when the House had confidence in him, so he decided to get a vote of confidence from the House.

The MPs were required to vote for 37 vacant seats of the Senate with 11 Senators already elected unopposed from Punjab owing to withdrawals from opposing candidates.The environment inside the polling station was friendly and the rival candidates were seen pleasantly talking to one another.

On papers, the government candidate enjoyed the support of 181 MNAs whereas his rival had the backing of 160 legislators in the 342-member house, which was turned into a polling station for the electoral exercise, which started at around 9am and continued till 5pm without a break.

As per an understanding with the PTI, JI’s MNA Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali did not turn up for polling while NA-75 is vacant and the re-polling in this constituency has been scheduled for March 18.

“We just can’t understand that 181 members were on our side and 159 on the other, as Chitrali was not to vote for either side and then seven votes were rejected, and still Gilani received 169 votes. Yes, there was a talk going in the assembly hall among some of our members that there could be a question mark over the ballot papers polled by the prime minister and Zartaj Gull,” said one MNA belonging to a government allied party.

He said that one ruling coalition candidate got 164 votes and the other 174 also indicated something pre-conceived executed by certain MNAs.

PTI MNA Sheharyar Afridi mistakenly put his signature on the ballot box and then he requested issuance of a new ballot paper but he was not complied under the law. A new ballot paper, however, was issued to PPP top leader Asif Ali Zardari, as his ballot paper was also wasted before having been polled.

PPP senior leader Syed Naveed Qamar claimed that even the votes of Prime Minister Imran Khan and MNA Zartaj Gull as well as of Sheharyar Afridi were also rejected.

Afridi, MNA since 2013 general elections, had taken part in the Senate voting twice previously. He denied having been reprimanded by the prime minister over the waste of his vote and said that the PM acknowledged him as his most loyal and trustworthy party man.

In his application to the presiding officer, he claimed to have missed the party meetings related to poll preparations and by mistake put his signature on the ballot paper instead of the allotted number.

Prime Minister Imran Khan came to the Parliament House in early hours to cast his vote and then spent some time meeting a few party lawmakers in his chamber and afterwards watched the poll-related developments from the Prime Minister’s House on television, it was learnt.

He spent two consecutive days at the Parliament House and interacted with the treasury members in the run-up to the Senate poll and at his luncheon Wednesday, which he hosted in their honour, around 180 members turned up but the poll result was quite surprising.

Several government members thumped desks to welcome the prime minister upon arrival in the assembly hall while PPP lawmakers chanted slogans such as ‘Jeay Bhutto’. Inside the hall and in the lobbies the leaked video of Ali Haider Gilani remained a hot topic of discussion among the members.

Polling continued smoothly but the repeated reminders to the legislators by the returning officer to leave the assembly hall after casting the vote were ignored by several MNAs. Majority of members also did not wear masks, including the prime minister and some of his cabinet members, including Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Ch Fawad Hussain, Pervaiz Khattak and Murad Saeed. However, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto and ex-PM Raja Pervaiz Ashraf were among members who wore masks as well as Planning Minister Asad Umar.

Some MNAs were seen removing their masks while casting their votes and then wearing them again. NA Speaker Asad Qaiser was also among them.

Meanwhile, The Election Commission of Pakistan on Wednesday issued the certificate of election to declare Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani as a returned candidate to be a member of the Senate from the Federal Capital.

The certificate of election issued under Form-58 says: “The returning officer for election to the Senate from the Federal Capital, hereby certify that I have on March 03, 2021, declared Mr Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani to have been duly elected to be a member of the Senate of Pakistan and that in token thereof, I have granted him this certificate of election.”

In Sindh Assembly, the PPP won seven seats --- five general seats, one technocrat and women’s seat each, while the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, part of combined opposition in the provincial assembly, bagged two seats each.

The opposition alliance’s third component -- Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), an alliance comprising Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) -- suffered an upset when its leader Pir Pagaro’s younger brother Sadruddin Shah Rashdi only managed to get only 14 votes. He, however, managed to get recounting done thrice but that could not boost the numbers he had already secured.

Some other individual politicians also failed to win on the general seats while Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) also failed to get its candidate elected from the Sindh Assembly. The ruling PPP in Sindh was supposed to get only six seats from the Sindh Assembly in reciprocity with its 99 MPAs but with the support of defectors from the Muttahida, PTI and GDA who voted for its candidates, it managed to win the seventh seat as well. The PPP had fielded 11 candidates on 11 seats but emerged victorious on seven of them.

PPP’s Saleem Mandviwalla, Shahadat Awan, Jam Mahtab Hussain Dahar, Sherry Rehman and Taj Haider were elected on general seats while Farooq H Naek and Palwasha Khan won the election on technocrat and woman seats respectively. The PPP got five extra votes for technocrat seat and seven extra votes on the women seat. Besides, six votes were rejected on general seats, three on technocrat and four on women seats in the Sindh Assembly.

On the other hand, only four candidates of the opposition parties, two each from the MQM and PTI, managed to secure win on two general seats and one each reserved for women and technocrats.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's Faisal Vawda and Faisal Sabzwari of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement were declared victorious on general seats while PTI’s Saifullah Abro and MQM-P’s Khalida Ateeb were declared successful on reserved seats for technocrats and women, respectively.

The total number of votes of the joint opposition in the house was 65 but its three candidates on as many general seats managed only 57 votes. Similarly, the opposition’s candidates on technocrat and women seats received 57 votes each.

The only MPA belonging to Jamaat-e-Islami Abdul Rashid stayed away from the polling process, while three MPAs of the Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) cast their ballots in favour of their lone candidate, Yasha Ullah Afghan, on a technocrat seat.

Two disgruntled PTI lawmakers, Shaharyar Shar and Aslam Abro, came to the house along with PPP lawmakers. PTI Karachi President Khurram Sherzaman remained quite active throughout the day. The PTI members also raised slogans against the PPP.

As soon as the PTI’s defecting MPA Sheharyar Khan Shar cast his vote, he was quickly taken away in the car of Irrigation Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal.

The other PTI's defecting MPA, Aslam Abro, announced after casting his vote that he had followed the dictates of his conscience. In the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, the PTI secured 10 of the 12 Senate seats.

All the PTI candidates remained successful. Shibli Faraz, Mohsin Aziz, Liaquat Tarakai, Faisal Saleem and Zeeshan Khanzada won on general seats, Dost Mohammad Khan Mehsud and Dr Humayun Mohmand on the two seats reserved for technocrats, Dr Sania Nishtar and Falak Naz on women seats, and Gurdeep Singh on the lone seat allocated for religious minorities.

The PDM won the remaining two seats with one going to Awami National Party’s Hidayatullah Khan and the other to Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl’s Maulana Attaur Rahman, who is also a younger brother of Maulana Fazlur Rahman.

In the 145-member Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, all the members cast votes. The polling began at 9 am and continued till 6 pm.

The polling was scheduled to close at 5 pm, but the time was extended to facilitate the lawmakers who were present in the provincial assembly.

Maulana Hidayatur Rahman of JUI-F was the first MPA to cast his vote while Provincial Education Minister Shahram Khan Tarakai was the last to do so.

According to unofficial results, Federal Minister for Information Shibli Faraz, Mohsin Aziz and Liaqat Tarakai, all former Senators of the PTI, retained their seats in the first round of counting for general seats. They were the frontrunners and were able to get the needed 19 votes easily.

In the Balochistan Assembly, Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) emerged as the leading party in the Senate after bagging six seats in addition to independent candidate Abdul Qadir, the joint candidate of the PTI and BAP.

The BAP won three general and one each of technocrat, women and minority seats, while the JUI-F bagged two seats, and the ANP and BNP could win one seat each besides independent candidate Nasima Ahsan, who joined the BNP the other day, emerged victorious.

All the 65 members of the Balochistan Assembly used their right to vote.

Those who were declared elected on the general seats as member of the Upper House were BAP's Manzoor Ahmed Kakar, Sarfraz Bugti, Prince Ahmed Omerzai, ANP’s Arbab Omer Farooq, BNP’s Muhammad Qasim and Abdul Ghafoor Haideri of the JUI-F. The independent candidate Abdul Qadir, joint candidate of BAP and PTI, secured his Senate’s seat.

On the special seats for technocrats, Saeed Ahmed Hashmi of the BAP and JUI-F’s Kamran Murtaza were declared elected. BAP’s Samina Mumtaz and independent candidate Nasima Ahsan, who joined the BNP the other day, won their seats on the reserved seats for women. Danesh Kumar of the BAP was declared elected on a minority seat.