ISLAMABAD, June 22: Only 300 of the 342 members of the National Assembly cast their votes in the election for the new prime minister on Friday.

The winning candidate, Raja Pervez Ashraf of the PPP, bagged 211 votes with PML-N’s Sardar Mehtab Ahmad Khan securing 89.

At the moment, four National Asssembly seats are lying vacant. Elections could not be held for the NA-42 seat in tribal areas because of the law and order situation and the seat vacated by former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is yet to be filled.

Membership of Farahnaz Ispahani, a PPP lawmaker on reserved seat, has been suspended because of her dual nationality and the party is yet to nominate a member on the reserved seat which fell vacant with the death of Fouzia Wahab.

The PML-N has 92 members in the assembly. Three of its members are out of the country and one abstained because of his differences with the party leadership. Of 89 votes polled by Mr Abbasi, 88 were from his party while Aftab Ahmed Sherpao, who is head of his own faction of the PPP, also voted for him.

Khwaja Mohammad Asif, senior party leader and MNA from Sialkot, Raja Mohammad Safdar Khan from Jhelum and Advocate Anusha Rehman Khan, a lawmaker on reserved seats for women, are abroad.Sardar Mohammad Mushtaq Khan, the PML-N lawmaker from Haripur, was the party’s fourth absentee. But he did not turn up to cast his vote for Mr Abbasi for a different reason. He has recently met President Asif Ali Zardari and is reportedly considering to join the ruling party.

Others who did not attend the special session included ANP Chief Asfandyar Wali Kha, who also is out of the country, Kashmala Tariq, Humayun Saifullah of the Likeminded faction and former federal minister Amir Muqam who recently joined the PML-N.

Awais Leghari, son of former President late Farooq Leghari, who has joined the PTI of Imran Khan, was also absent. All eight members of JUI-F though present in the house, abstained from voting.

Talking to journalists outside the parliament after the election of Raja Pervez Ashraf, Leader of the Opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said time had come for new elections. But he declined to make any comment when asked about the new prime minister’s offer for talks with the opposition on holding free and fair elections.

Chaudhry Nisar criticised ANP, MQM and PML-Q for supporting the PPP candidate, saying the people should ask the coalition partners on what moral grounds they had voted for Mr Ashraf, whose only credential was his involvement in corruption.

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