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MQM-P emerges bruised from Senate poll; Sattar cries foul over ‘horse-trading’

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SINDH Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah casts his vote during the Senate election in the Sindh Assembly on Saturday.—APP
SINDH Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah casts his vote during the Senate election in the Sindh Assembly on Saturday.—APP

KARACHI: Blaming his own provincial lawmakers for selling their votes, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan leader Dr Farooq Sattar on Saturday said that the Pakistan Peoples Party had indulged in horse-trading to win maximum seats from Sindh in the Senate election.

But, at least two women MPAs of the MQM-P lashed out at Dr Sattar for nominating his ‘favoured’ candidate Kamran Tessori as one of the five MQM-P Senate candidates and conceded that they did not vote for their party candidates.

The division in the MQM-P into the PIB and Bahadurabad groups cost the party a worst defeat in the Senate elections as it got only one seat, out of total five candidates.

ECP insists poll was fair

Dr Sattar himself conceded that as many as 14 out of a total of its 37 MPAs did not vote for the party candidates.

Talking to reporters in the Sindh Assembly he blamed the PPP — which got 10 of the total 12 Senate seats in Sindh — for indulging in “worst kind of horse-trading”.

“Some of my MPA sisters and brothers came to the assembly with PPP MPAs ... they went straight to the chamber of the chief minister, then cast their votes and were sent home,” he said.

Dr Sattar, who heads the MQM-P’s PIB group, said that eight MPAs of his party were bought by the PPP till Friday evening and today six more MPAs, including five females, came to the house with PPP lawmakers to cast their votes.

He condemned the PPP for what he called turning the election into an open auction by making open bids.

“I strongly condemn the way the [PPP] rigged the elections [and] I will lodge a protest with the Election Commission of Pakistan that this election was not free, fair and impartial and the ECP should take notice of this,” he said.

However, MQM-P’s Shazia Farooq and Naila Munir released their video statements in the evening in which they said that they were frustrated and angry because of the differences in the party and the persistence of Dr Sattar for nominating Kamran Tessori who was the main reason behind the split.

Both of them made it clear that they did not vote for the MQM-P, but claimed that they did not make any deal to sell their vote.

Ms Farooq and Ms Munir said that they were not associated with any of the MQM-P groups and they would prefer to sit in their home instead of becoming part of any grouping.

Ms Munir also said that she along with MQM MPA Heer Soho had attended a dinner on Friday evening at the Chief Minister House. “I have not sold myself,” she said.

A third female lawmaker, Sumeta Syed, also alleged that Dr Sattar had put the entire party at stake just because of one person.

With 94 members, PPP gets 110 votes

The ruling PPP has a total of 94 MPAs in the assembly, but according to its senior leader Saeed Ghani the party got 110 votes. The PPP managed to win 10 of the 12 Senate seats.

Denying his party’s involvement in horse-trading, he claimed that the PPP got votes from independent candidates and lawmakers belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.

When his attention was drawn towards rejection of 14 votes, he said it was a matter of concern but rest assured these were rejected on a technical ground.

11 PTI, PSP lawmakers vote for PML-F

Three lawmakers of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and eight MQM defectors, who are now part of the Pak Sarzameen Party, gave votes to the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional candidate Muzaffar Hussain Shah, making him win the only seat for his party.

PTI’s parliamentary party leader Khurram Sher Zaman said that he along with two more party lawmakers, Samar Ali Khan and Dr Seema Zia, gave votes to PTI candidate on a technocrat seat Najeeb Haroon and PML-F’s Shah on a general seat.

In reply to a question, he said bagging even one more seat than the actual strength of any party in the assembly would reflect horse-trading.

Dr Sagheer Ahmad of PSP, who was also a candidate, told reporters that his lawmakers gave vote to the PML-F candidate.

Mr Shah of the PML-F expressed gratitude to all parties, including PTI, PSP and MQM, for supporting him.

ECP claims holding ‘transparent’ polls

Provincial Election Commissioner, Sindh, Yusuf Khattak said that it was for the first time in history that such a transparent election was conducted today in the Sindh Assembly for electing 12 senators from the province.

He said all candidates and their polling agents who had watched the entire process of the election also admitted that it was a transparent election.

Mr Khattak, who was also the returning officer, said that the media was not allowed to witness the polling because assembly officials had informed him that the media was provided with a live feed of the proceedings.

Published in Dawn, March 4th, 2018