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Sindh senate election marred by horse-trading

March 06, 2015

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Senior Minister Nisar Khuhro casts his vote in Committee Room No I of the Sindh Assembly building on Thursday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
Senior Minister Nisar Khuhro casts his vote in Committee Room No I of the Sindh Assembly building on Thursday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: Despite claims by the provincial government that senate elections were held in a transparent manner on Thursday, horse-trading marred the polling process as Pakistan Peoples Party and Muttahida Qaumi Movement candidates polled seven more votes than their collective strength of 143 in the Sindh Assembly.

In the 167-member house, the PPP has 92 MPAs, MQM 51, Pakistan Muslim League-Functional 10, PML-Nawaz eight, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf four and National Peoples Party two.

Also read: PPP gets one more crucial vote a day before senate polls

While four lawmakers belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf stayed away from the polling process, total 163 lawmakers cast their ballots and of them seven candidates of the PPP and MQM collectively received 150 votes.

The leader of the opposition in the Sindh Assembly conceded that at least five of their 18 MPAs cast their ballots against their conscience.

Speaking to newsmen after the announcement of poll results by returning officer S.M. Tariq Quaderi, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah said senate elections had been held in a free and peaceful manner which was proof that democratic culture was taking firm roots.

The chief minister’s victory speech merely rubbed salt into the wounds of Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Shaharyar Khan Mahar, who rejected the CM’s claims and said the level of “rigging and horse-trading” in senate elections had put the entire assembly to shame.

“Five of our members were made to change their loyalty through horse-trading. They will soon be exposed,” said Mr Mahar while addressing a press conference along with Nand Kumar, Imtiaz Shaikh and Nusrat Sehar Abbasi of Pakistan Muslim League-Functional.

He was critical of the role of the election commission and said the ballot box was empty before the start of polling but afterwards there were two blank papers besides ballot papers when the box was opened.

He asked how and who slipped in the two papers in the ballot box which had been placed before the returning officer and said it appeared the lawmaker whose vote had been bargained over was asked to drop the blank paper and bring the ballot paper which was later on dropped in the box after having been marked by the party MPA. The process was repeated twice, he said.

In reply to a question, he said if any PML-F member was found guilty of horse-trading, action would be taken against him. The National Peoples Party had already indicated that it would not cast vote for the PML-F candidate. “If we had wanted to indulge in horse-trading, we could have worked on PPP members who were suffering losses because of the government’s sugar cane policy but we did not like to set a bad example,” he said.

MQM parliamentary party leader Syed Sardar Ahmad said that the MQM had an open alliance with the PPP and its members had cast their votes as per the decision of the party.

MQM deputy parliamentary party leader Khwaja Izharul Hassan and Syed Faisal Sabzwari said that the MQM believed in clean politics and elections of the party candidates was manifestation of the philosophy of their leaders.

According to results, the PPP’s Islamuddin Shaikh, Saleem Mandviwalla, Engineer Gyanchand Meghwar, Abdul Latif Ansari and Rehman Malik and the MQM’s Mian Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh and Khushbakht Shujaat won while Imamuddin Shauqeen of the PML-F lost as he could muster only 13 votes.

The polling station was set up in Committee Room No1 of the Sindh assembly building, where the first vote was cast by Khuda Bux Rajar of the PML-F at 9.10am followed by former Sindh chief minister Dr Arbab Rahim who cast his ballot at 9.25 am.

On behalf of the ruling PPP, Nisar Ahmed Khuhro was the first to cast his vote.

Lawmakers Syed Murad Ali Shah, Dr Sikander Mandhro, Nasir Ali Shah, Ghulam Quadir Chandio, Syeda Shehla Raza and Jam Mehtab Dahar were polling agents of PPP candidates while Mohammad Hussain and Heer Soho were representing MQM candidates and Nusrat Sehar Abbasi and Shaharyar Mahar the PML-F candidate.

The PPP had set up two election camps at the chamber of the chief minister and the chamber of the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.

The chief minister cast his vote at 3.45pm while the last vote was cast by Mukesh Chawla at 4.25 pm.

Sharmila cast vote on her wedding day

PPP lawmaker Sharmila Farooqui surprised everyone by turning up to cast her vote in the senate elections on the most important day of her life — her Rukhsati — with her hands painted with henna.

Her Nikah was solemnised with Hasham Riaz Shaikh on March 1 and March 5 was her Rukhsati day.

Talking to media persons after the session, Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani who called the house in order at 9.30am and prorogued it sine die at 9.45am said that the PML-N and PML-F lawmakers who had cast their votes in favour of PPP candidates had done so “on the voice of their conscience”.

Ex-CM Dr Rahim said rigging had continued since the May 2013 general elections. “We had fielded our candidate to play a role as an opposition party without taking into consideration its outcome,” he said.

Hasnain Mirza, son of rebel PPP leader Dr Zulfikar Mirza, arrived from London specially to cast his vote. He said in reply to a question that he had returned on the directive of his father who wanted him to discharge his constitutional obligation.

VOTES POLLED BY candidates

Islamuddin Shaikh 24 votes

Khushbakht Shujaat 22 votes

Mian Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh 22 votes

Saleem Mandviwalla 21 votes

Engineer Gyanchand Meghwar 21 votes

Abdul Latif Ansari 20 votes

Rehman Malik 20 votes

Imamuddin Shauqeen 13 votes

Published in Dawn March 6th, 2015

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