Opposition cries foul after losing Senate battle by ‘seven rejected votes’

PDM leaders claim their candidate Yousuf Raza Gilani bagged 49 votes, not 42


News Desk March 12, 2021
Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) leader speaking to the media in Islamabad. SCREENGRAB

Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) – the 11-party opposition alliance – rejected the result of Senate chairman election after their candidate Yousuf Raza Gilani lost the closely-contested battle against the ruling coalition’s Sadiq Sanjrani on Friday.

98 senators from the upper house exercised their right to vote today. Sanjrani, the PTI-backed candidate, received 48 votes while his opponent Gilani could only manage 42. Seven votes were rejected.

Addressing a press conference after the announcement of the result, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Ahsan Iqbal claimed that Gilani in fact bagged 49 votes, not 42, adding the seven rejected votes.

He said that the senators who had stamped on the name of the candidate on the ballot paper cannot be considered rejected and should be counted as Gilani’s votes.

Iqbal said that there are Supreme Court and high court decisions regarding voting as well as ruling from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). "The vote cast inside the box is valid even if it is over the name [of the candidate]," he maintained.

Former prime minister and PPP leader Raja Pervaiz Ashraf also declared Gilani the winner, saying that the government-backed candidate was defeated despite all the efforts from the government. "Today the parliament was insulted. Chairman Senate has been selected artificially today," he added.

He said that if Sanjrani was a true democratic person, he would have refused to take up the position. Ashraf further said that the government’s days were numbered and soon the PDM would send it packing.

Qasim Gilani, son of Yousuf Raza Gilani, announced on the occasion that they will challenge today’s result in Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

"They rejected seven votes because they knew they would lose. We will challenge the results in the election commission," he maintained.

PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz, taking to Twitter, congratulated Gilani for his "victory" which would be announced "sooner or later".

 

PML-N leader and former interior minister Ahsan Iqbal claimed that Gilani got 49 votes and hence won the elections, adding seven rejected votes to the opposition's tally.

He said that a spectacle was made of Pakistan's parliament today. "Imran Khan looted votes during Daska by-elections as well as during the vote of confidence in National Assembly," she added.

 

"Seven votes of Yousuf Raza Gilani were forcibly declared rejected and the candidate who was losing was announced the winner," he wrote on his official Twitter handle.

Taunting Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, PML-N Joint Secretary Tallal Chaudry asked him if he enjoyed the role of "neutral" in a tweet.

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Awami National Party (ANP) President Asfandyar Wali Khan, while rejecting the results, said that all the seven rejected votes should have been declared valid.

In a statement issued in Peshawar, he said that the rejection of the vote is also a form of rigging for which the opposition and the people have to raise their voice. "The government elected its chairman through bullying, rigging and pressure."

Asfandyar said that opposition members are expressing their concerns but are not being heard which is undemocratic. "ANP rejects these results and will support the joint strategy of the opposition."

He said that democracy is not being allowed to flourish in the country and shameful methods are being adopted to shun the voices. "Why were hidden cameras installed? Will those responsible be punished in this regard," he questioned.

He further said that the Senate elections were also made controversial after the general election of 2018, which is not a good omen for democracy.

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