It came as a surprise to many legislators when despite having only four Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) members in the house, the PTI candidate for presidential elections Justice (Retd) Wajihuddin Ahmed managed to score five votes.
The announcement was made by Sindh High Court chief justice Mushir Alam - the presiding officer - as the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s candidate Mamnoon Hussain bagged the majority of votes from Sindh Assembly.
Announcing the result, the chief justice said: “PML- N’s leader Mamnoon Hussain has received 64 votes, while the PTI candidate Justice (Retd) Wajihuddin Ahmed could only attain five votes. Not a single vote is declared invalid.”
After the results, the PTI members were showing victory signs to journalists sitting in press galleries as members of the PML-N were wondering who had cast the fifth vote. Though, Justice Wajihuddin could not succeed, he was lucky to attain the unexpected vote the second time round. Earlier in 2007, he had bagged two votes while contesting elections against General Pervez Musharraf.
SHC chief justice conducted the presidential elections in the presence of provincial election commissioner, who was acting as a polling officer, with the help of the election commission and Sindh Assembly officials.
The attendance was not full as the PPP lawmakers had boycotted the elections. There were rumours that PPP members would gather inside the house before the election to stage a protest, but not a single of its MPAs turned up. Members of the MQM, the PML-F, the PML-N and the PTI, however, were seen chatting in the session which started at 10:25am.
The first vote was cast by MQM’s Abdul Haseeb Khan and the polling continued till 1pm. Out of the 72 opposition members, only 69 voted in the favour of their candidates. MQM’s MPA Aisha Aftab, and Erum Farooqui and PML-N’s MPA Aqib Hussain Jatoi, however, did not show up. The counting started at around 3pm.
Outside Sindh Assembly
PML-N MNA Irfanullah Marwat, who also happens to be a parliamentary leader of his party in the provincial assembly, said that there was no harm seeking votes from any party, including the MQM, for the presidential candidate but forging an alliance with the MQM would be “unbearable”.
Responding to Marwat’s statement, opposition leader in Sindh Assembly Faisal Subzwari, said that they had voted for Mamnoon Hussain “unconditionally”. “It’s the PPP which has invited us to join the government. We have not given them a response yet, but the PML-N has not formally asked for any alliance,” he said. The MQM wants to work with all political forces in the country for good governance, rule of law, resolving energy crises and ending militancy and terrorism in Pakistan, he added.
PML-F leader Imtiaz Shaikh said that they would have no objection if the PML-N and the MQM joined hands. “We are coalition partners of the PML-N but our party leadership has expressed concern over the attitude of the PML-N leaders who did not take us into confidence before going to Nine Zero,” he said.
He criticised, however, the PPP’s decision to boycott the presidential elections. “The PPP claims to be a democratic party, but it is making decisions which are in violation of democratic rights,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2013.