Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has acquired somewhat of a reputation for going against the grain. So it was no surprise that the province’s assemblymen on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) presidential candidate Justice (retd) Wajihuddin Ahmed – unofficially the runner-up in the vote. And the actual winner Mamnoon Hussain of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) stood second at the provincial level.
In the 124-member K-P Assembly, about 110 lawmakers cast their votes, out of which Wajihuddin bagged 69 votes; while Mamnoon secured 41 votes.
Under the electoral formula, the PTI candidate bagged a total of 36 electoral votes, while Mamoon Hussain secured 24 electoral votes.
Eight assembly members, four each from Awami National Party (ANP) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) did not turn up at the polls due to their boycott of the presidential race. Two other members representing Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) also could not cast their votes as they were out of the country.
The voting started with a 15-minute delay at around 10:15 am. Peshawar High Court (PHC) chief justice acted as presiding officer while the provincial election commissioner and other officials acted as polling officers.
Javed Akbar Khan, a lone independent member of the assembly, and All Pakistan Muslim League’s (APML) Ghulam Mohammad also voted for the PTI candidate.
Interestingly, the QWP which is a coalition partner of the PTI did not vote for its presidential candidate and supported Mamnoon instead. The JUI-F, one of the main opposition parties, also voted for the PML-N candidate.
No cracks in the coalition
The QWP has about 10 lawmakers in the provincial assembly. Talking to reporters both the Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak and the QWP senior minister Sikandar Sherpao quashed speculation of any differences in the ruling coalition.
In reply to a question, Khattak said the QWP decision to vote for PML-N candidate would not affect their working relationship in the provincial government. He said it had been decided that both parties would be on same page in the province. “However, it was agreed that in other matters both the parties will be at liberty,” he added.
Khattak said there was no question of differences in the coalition government as all partners were operating within an agreed framework.
The QWP provincial president and senior provincial minister Sikandar Sherpao said his party’s decision to vote for the PML-N did not impact provincial coalition; as it was not a provincial issue. Sikandar said his party had also supported the PML-N in the election of speaker, deputy speaker and prime minister.
Sikandar said presidential elections were a federal issue and they wanted the president to play an effective role in solving issues faced by Fata.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2013.
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