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Closer, messier Senate emerges after polls

Updated March 06, 2015

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Chief Minister Balochistan Abdul Malik Baloch casting his vote during elections for the Senate. - Online
Chief Minister Balochistan Abdul Malik Baloch casting his vote during elections for the Senate. - Online

ISLAMABAD: All the hullabaloo and mudslinging over Thursday’s Senate elections did not disturb the expected outcome as the ruling PML-N and main opposition PPP got almost equal representation in the upper house of the parliament over the next three years.

With the Imran Khan-led PTI entering the Senate for the first time in its history, the return of the nationalist Balochistan National Party (Mengal) and the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) to the upper house of the parliament are other significant outcomes from the Senate elections.

The estranged BNP-M is being represented in the Senate after seven years. In 2008, its outspoken Senator Sanaullah Baloch had tendered his resignation in protest over the alleged anti-Balochistan policies of the then federal government and the military operation in the province during the army-led civilian set-up of Gen Pervez Musharraf.


PML-N, PPP remain neck-and-neck; race for chairman, deputy chairman posts now wide open


The JI, which lost representation in the upper house due to its decision to boycott the 2008 general elections, will be returning to the Senate after three years. The party will be represented by none other than its chief Sirajul Haq, who won a general seat from KP.

According to unofficial results, the PML-N has won the highest number of seats with 18 out of the 48 contested on Thursday, followed by eight by the PPP, six by the PTI and four by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).

Also read: Senate election and its set of controversies

Despite winning the most seats, the PML-N will continue to remain a minority government in the Senate with 26 senators as the PPP has maintained its position as the single largest party with 27 senators. This means that the race for the coveted slots of chairman and deputy chairman will be hotly contested and the role of smaller parties cannot be underestimated.

As expected, the PML-N swept the polls in Punjab, winning all 11 seats, including seven general, and two each reserved for technocrats and women. Similarly, despite fielding “outsiders”, the PML-N bagged both Senate seats from Islamabad as well. Besides, the party has managed to win three seats from Balochistan and two from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Thanks to an understanding with the PPP, the MQM secured four seats and managed to improve its strength in the Senate from seven members to eight.

Due to a controversy arising out of the government’s move to issue a presidential order changing the voting procedure for Fata members hours before polling, elections on four Fata seats could not take place on Thursday.

The polling process generally remained normal and peaceful in all legislatures except in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, where polling was suspended for more than five hours when opposition members protested over the conduct of polling staff and pointed out violations of the electoral code of conduct by members of the treasury benches.

Explore: Faced with failure in Fata, PML-N spoilt Senate race?

At one point, opposition members spoke of a boycott of the Senate elections, but later agreed to resume the voting process after negotiations with the ruling PTI. Polling, which was suspended at 10:30am, resumed at around 4.15pm and continued until 11pm. During this time, 123 MPAs out of a total 124, cast their votes. PTI’s Javed Nasim was the only MPA who could not cast his vote after his expulsion from the party for violating party discipline by proposing an independent candidate, Waqar Ahmed Khan.

A total of 289 of 330 MNAs were eligible to cast their votes in the National Assembly, where polling was held to elect one member on a general seat and the one on a seat reserved for women.

In Sindh, 163 legislators polled their votes out of a total 167 members.

Punjab

The winners on general seats from Punjab include at least two ‘outsiders’ — PML-N Vice President Sindh Saleem Zia and PML-N Sindh Secretary General Syed Nehal Hashmi. Other winners on general seats include Federal Information Minis­ter Pervez Rashid, Environ­ment Minister Mushahid­ullah Khan, retired Lt-Gen Abdul Qayyum, Chaudhry Tanvir Khan and Ghous Mohammad Khan Niazi.

Supporters of PML-N celebrate the victory of Najma Hameed in Senate election outside Punjab Assembly. -  INP
Supporters of PML-N celebrate the victory of Najma Hameed in Senate election outside Punjab Assembly. - INP

PML-N Chairman and current Leader of the House in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq and Prof Sajid Mir have won the two seats reserved for technocrats while the two seats reserved for women went to Begum Najma Hameed and Ayesha Raza Farooq.

Federal capital

The PML-N also won both seats from the federal capital. Iqbal Zafar Jhagra from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Raheela Magsi from Sindh were elected against the general and reserved seat for women from Islamabad, respectively. Ms Magsi had entered the race at the eleventh hour after getting permission from the Islamabad High Court to contest the elections after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) rejected her papers on a plea by PPP candidate Nargis Faiz Malik.

Sindh

The PPP won five of the seven general seats in Sindh, while the remaining two went to the MQM. Those who emerged victorious include former interior minister Rehman Malik, former finance minister Saleem Mandwiwala, Islamuddin Sheikh, Abdul Latif Ansari and Gyan Chand of the PPP and Khushbakht Shujaat and Mian Mohammad Atteq Sheikh of the MQM.

Former chairman of Senate, Farooq Naek (PPP), and Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif (MQM) had already been elected unopposed against two reserved seats for technocrats. Similarly, Sassui Palejo (PPP) and Nighat Mirza (MQM) had also been elected unopposed against two reserved seats for women.

Balochistan

All three ruling coalition partners – the PML-N, the PkMAP and NP – bagged three seats each out of the 12 seats contested in Balochistan. Besides them, JUI-F, BNP-M and an independent secured one seat each.

President PML-N Nawab Sanaullah Zehri, PML-Q Parliamentary Leader Sheikh Jaffar Khan Mandukhel and Balochistan Provincial Assembly Opposition Leader Maulana Abdul Wase in a group photo with newly elected senators after the Senate elections. - Online
President PML-N Nawab Sanaullah Zehri, PML-Q Parliamentary Leader Sheikh Jaffar Khan Mandukhel and Balochistan Provincial Assembly Opposition Leader Maulana Abdul Wase in a group photo with newly elected senators after the Senate elections. - Online

The winners on seven general seats are Mir Nematullah Zehri (PML-N), Hasil Bizenjo (NP), Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri (JUI-F), Jahanzeb Jamali Dini (BNP-M), Muhammad Usman and Sardar Azam Khan (PkMAP) and Muhammad Yousuf Badini (IND).

The two women seats were won by Kalsoom Parveen of the PML-N and Gul Bushara of the PkMAP whereas Shahbaz Durrani of the PML-N and Mir Kabir of the NP have secured the technocrats seats.

Dr Ashok Kumar of the NP has won the only seat reserved for the minorities.

Also read: Utter chaos

The following table depicts complete picture of the new Senate after Thursday’s elections

Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2015

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