Hustle and bustle outside the Punjab Assembly during the Senate elections. — White Star
Hustle and bustle outside the Punjab Assembly during the Senate elections. — White Star

LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) pulled a surprise on Saturday as it snatched one Senate general seat with a majority first priority vote in the Punjab Assembly despite being short of the required number.

Its candidate Chaudhry Sarwar topped the seven candidates’ list in general seats with 44 first priority votes, while his party has 30 members in the assembly.

PML-N-backed ‘independents’, as expected, secured 11 seats, including five seats reserved for women, technocrat and non-Muslims.

The polling was held at the Punjab Assembly House from 9am to 4pm.Jubilant over PML-N-backed candidates’ victory in the election, Maryam Nawaz Sharif tweeted: “Congratulations to all Lions”.

Ruling party alleges its 20 MPs deviated from party policy

She said, “PML-N’s name, party and election symbol were snatched in the Senate election but every candidate nominated by Nawaz Sharif returned to the Senate”. Saying the PML-N has now become the single largest party in the Senate as well, she tweeted her all time favourite: “Rok sako tu rok lo” or stop (Nawaz Sharif), if you can.

PTI MPs and workers also celebrated the victory. Chaudhry Sarwar expressed his gratitude to his voters within his party as well as independents and one Jamaat-e-Islami member. He said the victory would boost the party to focus on clinching Punjab through votes.

Of seven general seats, PML-N’s independents won six seats and they are Rana Maqbool (43 votes), Musadik Masood Malik (42 votes), Dr Asif Kirmani (42 votes), Haroon Akhtar Khan (42 votes), Shaheen Khalid Butt (41 votes) and Rana Mahmoodul Hassan (40 votes).

PML-N’s Zubair Gul could not become senator as he bagged 38 votes.

PPP’s Shahzad Ali Khan secured 26 votes, while PML-Q’s candidate Kamil Ali Agha obtained seven votes. Both PPP and PML-Q have eight members each in the Punjab Assembly.

For two women seats, the PML-N backed candidates Saadia Abbasi and Nuzhat Sadiq recorded a straight win with 160 and 152 votes respectively, while PTI’s Andleeb Abbas obtained 46 votes.

On two technocrat seats, PML-N-backed Hafiz Abdul Karim and Ishaq Dar returned to the Senate with 160 and 155 votes respectively while PTI’s and PPP’s Malik Muhammad Asif Javed and Muhammad Nawazish Ali Pirzada could get 34 and 12 votes respectively.

For the minority seat, ruling party’s Kamran Michael won with 321 votes while PTI’s Victor Azariah got 36 votes.

PML-N sources alleged the PTI and PPP influenced 20 women MPs, including a minister, of the ruling party to vote for their candidates.

PML-N leader Pervaiz Rasheed said his party earned the Senate seats in accordance with its strength in the Punjab Assembly but Chaudhry Sarwar bagged much more votes than his party and allied parties’ strength. “Now Imran Khan should tell which ATM was used to buy votes for Chaudhry Sarwar,” he asked.

Mr Rasheed said the holding of Senate elections well in time buried all rumours that the democratic system in the country would be wrapped.

The 11 PML-N backed candidates expressed their trust in their party and leadership of Nawaz Sharif.

With the completion of Senate elections, Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah said democracy had won and all undemocratic and saboteur forces met failure. He said the PML-N’s win had reasserted that politics minus Nawaz Sharif could not be accepted by the people of Pakistan. “Those dreaming for `controlled democracy’ in Pakistan will never find their dreams come true,” he asserted.

Published in Dawn, March 4th, 2018

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