LAHORE: In a close contest, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf managed to win two seats in the Senate by-election held in the Punjab Assembly on Thursday.
PTI’s Waleed Iqbal defeated PML-N’s Saud Majeed, former MNA and senator, on a general seat with a margin of 10 votes. Mr Iqbal polled 184 votes while Mr Majeed managed to secure 176.
Similarly, PTI’s Seemi Ezdi with 183 votes defeated PML-N’s former federal minister Saira Afzal Tarar who polled 175 votes. Ms Ezdi is the sister of former PTI secretary general Jahangir Tareen.
Seven votes for general seat and nine for women’s reserved seat were rejected.
The PTI had a claimed strength of 194 votes with the support of coalition partners and independents but Mr Iqbal and Ms Ezdi got 184 and 183 votes, respectively.
The PML-N had a claimed strength of 173 votes but Mr Majeed got 176 votes and Ms Tarar scored 175 votes. Mr Majeed claims that three out of seven rejected votes were polled for him as he was expecting 179 votes.
The vote was held on the seats which fell vacant owing to disqualification of two PML-N senators Haroon Akhtar Khan and Saadia Abbasi on the charge of having dual nationality.
The polling continued unhindered from 9am to 4pm. As many as 367 MPAs exercised their right to franchise from the 371-strong house. Two MPAs (one each from the PTI and PML-N) were abroad and could not cast their votes. Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has not yet taken the oath of his office as MPA, while one seat (PP-168) has been vacated by PML-N’s Saad Rafique after he got elected as MNA.
Speaking to media personnel, Mr Iqbal expressed his gratitude to the PTI, coalition partners and independents for campaigning and polling votes to help him win the election. Even the PML-N and PPP’s collusion could not work, he said.
Ms Ezdi also thanked the party and coalition partners for campaigning and voting for her.
Mr Majeed and Ms Tarar claimed that the PTI had given a bait of ministries to its members but still the PML-N got five votes from the PTI MPAs.
At the start of the polling, Opposition Leader Hamza Shahbaz had a heated argument with the Punjab Assembly security staff for stopping MPAs and his staff at the main entrance to the assembly. He asked the security staff, “Do not act like station house officer as this is not a police station but Punjab Assembly”. He said it was disrespectful to bar MPAs from entering the assembly building.
Speaker Pervaiz Ealhi said no MPA was stopped from entering the assembly. “Only non-MPAs or those not having assembly membership cards were stopped by the security staff,” he added.
As soon as the election results were out, congratulations started pouring in from every corner. Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and senior minister Aleem Khan in their tweets extended heartiest congratulations to Mr Iqbal and Ms Ezdi over their victory.
Stating that both the new parliamentarians will strengthen the PTI, the chief minister said Mr Iqbal’s and Ms Ezdi’s success had proved that Punjab had become a stronghold of PTI.
The PTI leaders celebrated the party’s win in the election while distributing sweets at Punjab Assembly.
Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2018