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PML nominee wins senate seat: Opposition boycotts poll

September 15, 2004

LAHORE, Sept 14: PML nominee Sardar Mahmood Ahmad was elected senator from the Punjab on Tuesday, as the opposition parties boycotted the election to the seat vacated by prime minister Shaukat Aziz.

According to preliminary result, a total of 246 votes were cast out of which Sardar Mahmood bagged 245. Opposition's Birjees Tahir could get just one vote.

The result was announced by Punjab Election Commissioner Rahim Nawaz Durrani immediately after the polling concluded at 4pm on the Punjab Assembly premises. For the first time the election commission staff invited reporters present there to witness the counting process.

The house has a strength of 371. Of those, 113 members of the opposition (PPP, PML-N and MMA) did not cast their votes as they had decided on Monday evening to boycott the by poll.

Twelve MPAs of the ruling alliance also did not turn up. Of them, nine, including Faisal Farooq Cheema, Saleh Gunjial, speaker Afzal Sahi, Shahid Khalil, Col Abbas (retired), Raza Ali Gilani and Ijaz Shafee, are out of the country.

Maulana Ata Maneka is lying ill and Pir Abbas Mohyuddin's relative had died. Malik Jawad Khokhar for whom the government officials anxiously waited also did not come. As many as 242 votes had been cast by 1pm, as the government had arranged refreshments for the voters and election staff.

Talking to reporters, law minister Raja Basharat regretted that the opposition did not take part in the political process, which meant that it did not believe in democracy.

Referring to differences among the PPP, PML-N and the MMA on various issues, he said it was a golden opportunity for the opposition to remove rifts among their ranks by taking part in the by poll.

Deputy opposition leader Rana Sanaullah told reporters at his chamber that they had boycotted the by poll because the government had hurt its sanctity by tabling a resolution in favour of the president's uniform in the house.

He said when the government did not own democracy and was rather working for the uniform, efforts for running the democratic process would prove futile. Answering a question, he said the opposition had not yet finalized their future mode of protest on the uniform issue.

However, he said, it would be based on Gen Musharraf's address to the nation about taking his uniform off when the 17th amendment had been passed. Rana Sana said he personally believed that circumstances would force Gen Musharraf to take off his uniform.