KARACHI: Polling for Senate seats in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly has come to a close, after having been extended till 8pm following allegations of rigging.
Voting in the Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan Assemblies had come to a close hours earlier, with initial results emerging. Polling for Fata, however, has been postponed after a controversy surfaced over an ordinance promulgated by President Mamnoon Hussain last night.
Polling in Punjab was also suspended amid rigging allegations, however, it resumed within 5 minutes. Polling concluded at 4pm and vote count is currently underway.
According to unofficial results, the Pakistan Muslim League -Nawaz (PML-N) swept Punjab, winning all 11 seats for the Senate. Notable PML-N leaders who stood victorious include Pervaiz Rashid, Mushahidullah Khan and Prof Sajid Mir. Iqbal Zafar Jhagra of PML-N also won, securing 211 votes for Senate's general seat reserved for Islamabad. Also from PML-N, Raheela Magsi, contesting for the women's seat reserved for the federal capital, stood victorious by securing 205 votes.
Runner up candidates of PPP Raja Imran and Nargis Faiz Malik received 68 and 71 votes, respectively.
Meanwhile in Sindh, all of Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) five candidates and Muttahida Quami Movement’s (MQM) two candidates, Khushbukht Shujaat and Islamuddin Sheikh, were elected to the Parliament’s Upper House today.
According to reports, PTI’s four MPs in the Sindh Assembly did not cast their votes. Pakistan Muslim League-Functional’s (PML-F) Imamuddin Shauqeen could only secure 12 votes, losing out to his competitors from PPP and MQM.
Of the 11 Senate seats up for election from Sindh, seven now belong to the PPP and four to the MQM. Both parties had already bagged two seats each, unopposed.
In Balochistan, PML-N’s internal rifts cost the party a seat, with Sardar Yaqub Nasir unable to make it to the Upper House. But Mir Naimat Ullah Khan Zehri of PML-N came out victorious. Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party’s Gul Bushra Sherani and PML-N’s Kulsum Parveen were elected as Senators on seats reserved for women, while National Party’s (NP) Ashok Kumar won on a minority seat.
Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party’s Usman Kakkar was also victorious in Balochistan, while JUI-F’s Ghafoor Haidri also made it to the Upper House, both on general seats. Independent contestant Yousuf Badini and Balochistan National Party's (BNP) Dr. Jahanzaib Jamaldini were also successful in making it to the Senate.
In total, the ruling coalition including PML-N, PkMAP and NP secured three seats each, winning a total nine of the 12 Senate seats at stake from the province.
PTI and its ally JI have scored seven positions out of the total 12 seats in the Senate polls from KP Assembly. PML-N won two seats whereas ANP, PPP and JUI-F also managed to secure one seat each from the province.
According to unofficial results for general seats, PTI’s Shibli Faraz succeeded with 17 votes, Mohsin Aziz with 18 votes and Liaquat Tarakai with 15 votes. JI chief Sirajul Haq remained successful with 18 votes, Maulana Attaur Rehman of JUI-F with 16 votes, PML-N’s Salahuddin Tirmizi with 14 votes and Khanzada Khan of PPP with 15 votes.
Samina Abid of PTI and Sitara Ayaz of ANP succeeded on reserves seats for women with 66 and 30 votes respectively.
PTI’s Noman Wazir (67 votes) and PML-N’s Barrister Jawed Abbasi (45 votes) secured the seats for technocrats.
John Kenneth Williams of PTI succeeded on the reserved seat for minorities with 70 votes.
Speaking to media representatives in Lahore earlier today, PPP leader and former MPA Raja Riaz had said ballot papers were being forcibly marked in the Punjab Assembly.
Moreover, lawmakers from the PPP and the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) in KP accused members of parties from the province's ruling coalition of taking ballot papers outside assembly premises.
PPP Secretary General Raja Pervez Ashraf said that Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) lawmakers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had been instructed to take their ballot papers to Chief Minister House, where they were to mark these in accordance with the wishes of the party's top leadership.
Opposition members in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly presented the provincial government with two demands for the resumption of the stalled polling process asking for the number of ballot boxes to be raised to four and two signatures of ECP officials on the ballot papers.
The demands for the resumption of polling process, which have remained suspended since the past three hours, were rejected by KP Chief Minister Parvez Khattak.
Meanwhile, Returning Officers in Islamabad’s Parliament House submitted a request with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) asking for polls for Senate seats from Fata to be postponed after a controversy surfaced over an ordinance promulgated by the president.
The ordinance pertaining to the Senate elections from Fata withdraws the Statutory Regulatory Order of July 7, 1975, as well as a 2002 executive order — issued by former president Pervez Musharraf — which gave each tribal senator as many votes as the number of vacant seats.
Following the withdrawal of the two earlier orders, each Fata MNA will now only have one vote.
Polling for Senate seats went underway in the national and provincial assemblies earlier during the day as 132 candidates contest for 48 seats in the Upper House of Parliament.
Senate elections for Fata postponed
Polling for Fata has been postponed and a new date is expected to be announced later. Earlier, Fata MNAs for four constituencies arrived at the Parliament House to inquire about the status of the elections.
The MNAs met ECP officials and presiding officials who informed them that polling was postponed due to the confusion prevailing with regards to the presidential ordinance issued yesterday. A session in Fata is underway at the ECP and the MNAs will be apprised of the new polling date as soon as a consensus is reached.
CEC takes notice of rigging allegations
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) retired Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan took notice of rigging allegations during polls for Senate seat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and has decided to conduct a probe into the charges.
Justice (retd) Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan said that if Raja Pervez has any evidence it should be presented to the commission and action would be taken against those found responsible for the act.
According to the ECP, 84 candidates will contest for 33 general seats from the provinces, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the federal capital, 22 for eight seats reserved for women from the provinces and the federal capital and 18 for eight seats reserved for technocrats, including ulema. Eight candidates will contest for two seats reserved for minorities — one each from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
No person entering the assemblies' premises was allowed to carry their cellphones or any other electronic devices with them as per ECP directives.
The provincial assemblies had been declared polling stations for the respective provinces and the National Assembly for four senators from Fata and two from Islamabad.
The halls of the respective assemblies were designated as polling stations and separate polling stations were formed in the National Assembly for the election of four senators from Fata and two from Islamabad.
The ruling PML-N and the main opposition PPP are expected to secure almost equal representation in the Upper House. The number of seats each party is expected to win is 25, but any behind-the-scenes moves can bolster the position of either party to enable it to clinch the offices of chairman and deputy chairman of the Senate.
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The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf is set to make history by getting representation in the Upper House for the first time. The Jamaat-i-Islami, which had lost representation in the Senate in 2012 after it boycotted the 2008 general elections, is expected to make a comeback.
The Senate comprises of 104 members — 23 each from the four provinces, eight from Fata and four from Islamabad. The seats allocated to a province comprise 14 general seats, four reserved for women, four for technocrats and one for a minority member.
Election for half of Senate seats takes place every three years.
Media personnel barred from entering assembly premises
Media personnel, including that of state-owned PTV, have been barred from entering the National Assembly as well as the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly as part of security arrangements. Journalists were not being allowed to carry their cameras and were expelled from the press galleries of the two assemblies.
The functioning of close-circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed for security purposes in the halls of the assembly premises was also suspended.
MPA takes ill
A Punjab Assembly MPA from PML-N, Sobia Anwar Satti, was elected on a seat reserved for women fell ill during the election for Senate seats in the house.
A Rescue 1122 team reached the spot and shifted the ailing MPA on a stretcher to an ambulance which rushed her to a nearby hospital for treatment.
President promulgates two ordinances
In a late night development, President Mamnoon Hussain had issued two ordinances; one dealing with the conduct of local government elections in cantonment boards, and the other dealing with the voting rights of MNAs from the tribal areas.
The first order, entitled the Cantonment (amendment) Ordinance 2015, empowers the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to conduct LG polls in the 43 cantonment areas throughout the country. The ECP has been authorised to issue an election schedule after receiving such a request from the federal government.
The second order was issued on the basis of a summary moved by the Safron ministry and deals with the voting rights of Fata senators in the Senate elections. The ordinance withdraws the Statutory Regulatory Order of July 7, 1975, as well as a 2002 executive order — issued by former president Pervez Musharraf — which gave each tribal senator as many votes as the number of vacant seats. Following the withdrawal of the two earlier orders, each Fata MNA will now only have one vote.
Both ordinances will come into effect on March 5, 2015 and the latter will be applicable to the Senate elections being held today.