QUETTA/ PESHAWAR/ ISLAMABAD/ LAHORE/ KARACHI: The Senate polls had their fair share of drama on Friday – and even one rare upset.
While polling in Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa passed without incident or surprise, there was one major upset in Punjab for a candidate of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). In Balochistan, the provincial election commissioner ordered a recount of the seven general seats after protests over the vote-count. The results have been withheld, and the recount will take place today (Saturday) in Islamabad and the result expected to be announced on March 5.
On Friday, a dozen seats were up for grabs from each province, four from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and two from the capital territories. Of the total of 54 seats contested, nine had already been elected unopposed before the polls.
Of a total of 47 seats (minus the seven that will be recounted from Balochistan), the PPP snapped up 16, the principal opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) eight, Awami National Party (ANP) six, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) four, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) three, Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) three, Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) one, Balochistan National Party-Awami (BNP-A) one and five were picked up by independent candidates.
Of the seven general seats withheld from Balochistan, three were initially won by the PPP, and one each by the JUI-F, PML-Q, ANP and BNP-A.
Friday’s polls will also spell the complete departure from the Senate for three parties. The Jamaat-e-Islami’s three senators retire on March 11 while Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awam Party (PkMAP) will also lose its presence in the Senate with its sole senator’s retirement – which is also the case with the Jamhoori Watan Party and the PPP-Sherpao.
With the result, and assuming the Balochistan recount keeps the results the same, the PPP now holds 41 seats of the 104-member house, PML-N 14, ANP 12, JUI-F seven, MQM seven, PML-Q five, BNP-A four, PML-F one and National Party-Balochistan one. Independents hold 12 seats.
The Senate election in Punjab seems to have been a massive upset for the PPP’s hierarchy – particularly for its strategists, among whom the president’s sister, MNA Faryal Talpur, figures prominently.
Despite holding the required numbers in the Punjab Assembly, it lost one seat to an independent candidate. PPP candidate Aslam Gill lost to independent Mohsin Khan Leghari in a stunning upset. Though he is associated with the PML-Q, Leghari contested the polls as an independent after developing differences with his party.
Talpur, who has been in Lahore for the last week, is said to have spearheaded the PPP’s strategy in Punjab, where the party had made three panels to ensure victory for its candidates. Talpur had held one-on-one meetings with each PPP MPA in the Governor House.
Sources in PPP told The Express Tribune that Talpur’s strategy was flawed to begin with – and it was the reason the PPP lost one valuable seat. They said her strategy was to form three panels, one for each contesting candidate (two seats had already been won uncontested), each of 47 members, by dividing PPP and PML-Q MPAs. Sources said this annoyed many party MPAs - who then registered their protest by casting their second-choice votes to Leghari.
The losing PPP candidate immediately cried foul. “PPP MPAs have betrayed me and I will protest over it,” said Gill.
“I thanked MPAs of almost all political parties who supported me and mentioned me as their second priority,” he said. Leghari said he has not yet decided to join any party – however, he said that he was seriously contemplating quitting the PML-Q.
PML-N: 7, PPP: 3, PML-Q: 1, Independent: 1
No less than 366 MPAs out of 371 members of the Punjab Assembly cast their ballots. Two seats are vacant, while three are out of the country. Two votes were declared invalid.
The PML-N’s successful candidates were Sardar Zulfiqar Khan Khosa, 54 votes, M Hamza, 52, Muhammad Zafarullah Khan Dhandhla, 52, and Malik Muhmmad Rafique Rajwana, 51. Earlier, PML-N also had Ishaq Dar elected from the technocrat seat, Kamran Michael from the non-Muslim seat and Nuzhat Sadiq from the women quota.
For the PPP, Dr Babar Awan managed to scrape through on one seat with 47 votes. Earlier, PPP’s Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan on the technocrat seat and Khalida Pervein on the women seat were elected unopposed. PML-Q’s Kamil Ali Agha (46.4) and an independent candidate, PML-Q MPA Sardar Mohsin Khan Leghari (46.2) also won their seats.
PPP: 7, MQM: 4, PML-F: 1
With PPP’s Abdul Hafiz Shaikh and MQM’s Dr Farough Naseem already elected unopposed on technocrat seats, 10 seats were contested in the Sindh Assembly. All 10 candidates of the coalition government walked away successful after 164 of 167 lawmakers cast their votes.
Of the 10 ‘contested’, six candidates were of PPP, three of MQM and one PML-F were declared victors.
From the general seats, PPP saw Raza Rabbani, Saeed Ghani, Mukhtiar Ali Dhamrah and Dr Kareema Khwaja elected to the Senate. MQM had Mustafa Kamal elected while Tahir Mashhadi was re-elected. PML-F saw former Sindh chief minister Muzaffar Ali Shah elected – leaving the only one opposition candidate, Gaffar Qureshi from the PML-Q (Likeminded), defeated comprehensively.
The beating given to the opposition on the non-Muslim seat was also brutal. Hari Ram Kishori Lal of the PPP secured 157 votes – leaving Photo Mal alias Dileep of PML-Q (Likeminded) with only four votes.
Nareen Jalil of the MQM and Muddasir Seher Kamran of the PPP were elected on the women’s seat, defeating Yasmin Farrukh of the PML-Q (Likeminded).
The actual number of votes from the Sindh Assembly is meant to be 168. However, with the result of the Tando Muhammad Khan seat withheld due to an assault inquiry against PPP member Waheeda Shah, only 167 members were eligible to cast their votes. Three MPAs, including former chief minister Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim of PML-Q (Likeminded), Rashida Panhwar and Rukia Soomro of PPP did not turn up to cast their vote citing different reasons. Arbab Rahim, has, of course, been in self-imposed exile since just after the 2008 elections. Rashida Panhwar did not come due to the death of her mother and Rukia Soomro was on medical leave
Hari Ram Kishori Lal secured 157 votes, Muddasir Seher Kamran 99, Nasreen Jalil 59, Muzaffar Ali Shah 22, Dr. Kareem Khwaja 22, Mukhtiar Ali Dhamrah alia Aijaz 22, Raza Rabbani 22, Saeed Ghani 21, Mustafa Kamal 26 and Tahir Mashhadi 25.
ANP: 5, PPP: 4, PML-N: 1, JUI-F: 1
The Awami National Party (ANP) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) ruling coalition managed to elect their candidates.
The polling process remained slow, as only around 80 candidates had cast their vote by the designated time of 4 pm. Polling concluded at around 6 pm, two hours later than the designated time. At around 3:30 pm, the polling staff asked the media to leave the press gallery and they were not allowed in till the announcement of results.
About 122 out of total 124 lawmakers cast their votes. About 20 candidates were in the run for the 12 seats from K-P. Nine candidates were in the run for seven general seats, four females for two women seats, four for two technocrats and two for a single minority seat.
ANP candidate and father of K-P Chief Minister Azam Hoti polled 17 votes, ANP’s Sindh chapter President Shahi Syed 17 and Baz Mohammad Khan 17 to be declared winners. PPP’s successful candidates were Saifullah Bangash with 14 votes and Ahmed Hassan with 18.
JUIF candidate Mohammad Talha Mahmood polled the most number of votes for a general seat, with 23. PML-N’s Nisar Mohammad polled 12 to take the last seat. Independent candidate Shah Faisal Afridi polled about four votes.
For the non-Muslim seat, ANP’s Amar Jeet Malhotra polled 92 votes, beating out PML-Q’s Gulzari Lal who had 18 votes.
ANP’s Zahida Khan polled 60 votes and PPP candidate Rubina Khalid 39 to capture the women’s seats . On the technocrat seat, ANP’s Ilyas Ahmed Bilour secured 53 votes while presidential spokesperson and PPP candidate Farhatullah Babar polled 33.
(Before being withheld for recount) PPP: 4, JUI-F: 3, PML-Q: 2, BNP (Awami): 2, ANP: 1
There was controversy during the polling from Balochistan, after which the province’s election commission ruled that the results would be withheld until a recount which, according to reports, will take place in Islamabad.
The PML-N raised objection to the election of an ANP candidate, Daud Khan. According to unofficial results, 40 candidates contested for 12 slots.
By the end, 63 out of 65 members of the Balochistan Assembly cast their votes. Two opposition members, Mir Bakhtiar Domki and Sardar Yar Muhammad Rind, were absent.
From the seven general seats, contested by 18 candidates, the initial victors were said to be Nawabzada Saifullah Magsi of PPP, (son of governor Balochistan), Sardar Fateh Muhammad Hassani and Yousuf Baloch of the PPP, Hafiz Hamdullah Saboor of the JUI-F, Mir Israr Zehri of BNP-A, Daud Khan of the ANP and Saeedul Hassan Mandokhail of PML-Q.
Their votes will now be recounted.
PML-N could not win a seat since it has only two MPAs in the provincial legislature.
PML-Q candidate Rubina Irfan and Naseema Ehsan of BNP-Awami won the seats reserved for women. Two technocrat seats were clinched by PPP’s Rozi Khan Kakar and JUI-F’s Mufti Abdul Sattar. The JUI-F’s Haiman Das won the non-Muslim minority seat.
Following the unofficial results of women’s seats, counting was stopped for an hour as PLM-N raised objection over rejecting a rejected vote. The counting restarted after the situation cooled down.
Muhammad Saleh Shah, Malik Najmul Hassan, Hadayat Ullah and Hilalur Rehman, all independent candidates, were declared winners from Fata.
Osman Saifullah of PPP and Mushahid Hussain Syed of PML-Q won uncontested from the technocrats’ and the general seat of the federal capital respectively.
(Read: Senate elections)
Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2012.