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QUETTA: The former provincial home minister and joint candidate of the ruling six-party alliance, Mir Sarfaraz Ahmed Bugti, was elected to the Senate on the vacant seat from Balochistan on Wednesday.

The general seat fell vacant after Naimatullah Zehri’s victory in the election to the provincial assembly in July. He resigned from the upper house of parliament after the official notification of his victory from the Shaheed Sikandarabad seat of Kalat district was issued.

Five candidates — three independents and one each from the ruling Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and the opposition — were in the run for the single vacant seat in the Senate. The ruling alliance led by BAP put forward the name of Sarfaraz Bugti as its candidate, while the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) and Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) jointly fielded former senator Haji Rehmatullah Kakar.

Balochistan PTI chief stays away from vote amid reports of differences between himself and CM

The three other candidates were former caretaker chief minister Alauddin Marri, Ghulam Dastagir Badini and Mir Aamir Rind. Mir Rind, however, announced his intention to pull out of the race before polling began.

Polling was held in the Balochistan Assembly between 9am and 4pm without any interval. Provincial Election Commissioner Niaz Ahmed Baloch was presiding officer for the election.

Sarfaraz Bugti bagged 37 out of the total 61 votes. The joint candidate of the MMA and BNP-M, Rehmatullah Kakar, secured 20 votes, while Mr Badini and Mr Marri did not receive any vote.

The election commissioner announced that 57 of the 61 votes had been polled. Four members of the Balochistan Assembly — Sardar Sanaullah Zehri of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Sardar Yar Mohammad Rind and Naimatullah Zehri of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Nawabzada Gohram Bugti of the Jamhoori Watan Party decided not to participate in the polls.

The ruling alliance was expecting 40 votes for its joint candidate, but the alliance of Yar Mohammad Rind, Naimatullah Zehri and Nawabzada Bugti did not support the ruling party’s candidate. The failure to garner the votes highlights the differences between the PTI’s provincial chief, Mr Rind, and Chief Minister Jam Mir Kamal Khan Alyani.

Nasrullah Zeray, who was elected in the general elections, cast his vote in favour of Mr Kakar.

Senator-elect Sarfaraz Bugti, while speaking to reporters after the election, thanked all the members who voted for him and said that as a member of the upper house of parliament he would try his best to represent the interests of the people of Balochistan.

He said that in his opinion the lack of development in the province was the key issue and that he would take up the matter on the floor of the house. He wondered how Balochistan could show any progress when it received a meagre Rs70 billion from the Centre.

After winning the seat, BAP now has seven representatives in the Senate. Six of those had been elected as independent candidates during the Senate elections earlier in March this year.

The provincial government at the time, headed by Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo, had also managed to get Mir Sadiq Sanjrani elected as Chairman of the Senate — the first individual from Balochistan to be elected to the high office — by garnering the support of the Pakistan Peoples Party and the PTI.

No coalition partner ignored

Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani on Wednesday said he had never ignored any coalition partner while taking decisions.

“I do not consider any of coalition partners as our ‘B’ team and I am treating all partners equally,” he said while talking to newsmen in the Balochistan Assembly during the Senate election.

Parliamentary leader of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in the Balochistan Assembly Yar Mohammad Rind had alleged last week that the chief minister was ignoring his party and treating it as the ‘B’ team of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP).

Jam Kamal said the BAP-led provincial government was taking all coalition partners into confidence while taking decisions.

The chief minister said he was astonished to hear the PTI leader level “unbelievable” allegations at his party. “We want to run the affairs together with all coalition partners on board for the development of Balochistan,” he said. His government sought to discuss all issues with the provincial leaders of the PTI and advised them to present their party’s agenda during cabinet meetings.

Jam Kamal lauded the coalition partners for extending support to BAP’s candidate Sarfaraz Bugti, who has been elected as a senator.

Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2018