QUETTA/ PESHAWAR/ ISLAMABAD/ LAHORE/ KARACHI:
It’s official now.
Mamnoon Hussain, a soft-spoken 73-year-old businessman from Karachi, will succeed Asif Ali Zardari as the 12th head of state after the latter’s five-year term expires in September.
Given the dominance of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in parliament, its presidential candidate Mamnoon Hussain was guaranteed a walkover even before the main opposition group, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), and its allies pulled out of the race to protest the change in the election schedule.
Tuesday’s balloting was only a formality.
Mamnoon won easily in Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan, though he lost in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), where Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the party of his challenger, has the majority. He won 277 out of 311 votes in the upper and lower houses of parliament to emerge victorious.
“Mamnoon Hussain has secured 432 electoral votes from parliament and provincial assemblies against Justice (retd) Wajihuddin Ahmed who secured 77 electoral votes,” announced Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim after the vote count.
“A total of 887 legislators exercised their right to vote,” CEC Ebrahim revealed. All but nine votes were declared valid. The president-elect will be sworn in on September 9 at the Presidency after Asif Zardari steps down at the end of his term.
Everything was pretty much scripted.
Nearly 200 legislators from the PPP and its allies – Awami National Party, Balochistan National Party-Awami and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid – stayed away from the process.
Similarly, all those who had promised to support the PML-N nominee lived up to their word. Lawmakers from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Pakistan Muslim League-Functional, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, National Party, Qaumi Wattan Party, Pakistan Muslim League-Zia and PML-Q’s Balochistan chapter voted for Mamnoon.
The only exception, however, was the Awami Muslim League. Its chief and only legislator Sheikh Rashid Ahmed made a commitment to the PTI hours before the election that he would vote for Wajihuddin. But surprisingly, he reneged and boycotted the vote at the eleventh hour.
The balloting at the Parliament House started at 10am and ended at 3pm. Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Anwar Khan Kasi officiated as presiding officer. Only the parliamentarians – MNAs and senators – cast their vote at the Parliament House.
According to Justice Kasi, 314 lawmakers cast their votes. All but three votes were declared valid. Of the valid votes, Mamnoon clinched 277, while his rival Wajihuddin bagged 34. The current strength of the National Assembly is 323 where 19 seats are vacant, while the Senate, where the PPP is in majority, has 104 lawmakers. The aggregate number of lawmakers in the two houses is 427. Tuesday’s election result shows that 113 parliamentarians did not participate in the process.
After Justice Kasi announced the result, Mamnoon Hussain, who was seated next to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, was greeted by the premier and other political leaders.
In the assembly where the PML-N has an overwhelming majority, 309 legislators voted for Mamnoon which makes 55 electoral votes, while Wajihuddin secured four electoral votes. Lahore High Court Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial officiated the balloting. According to the final tally, a total of 338 votes were cast, but six were declared invalid. Of the valid votes, Mamnoon bagged 309 and Wajihuddin 23.
MPAs from the PPP and PML-Q didn’t use their right to vote as per the policy of their parties. According to the PML-N projections, Mamnoon was to secure 311 votes – which he did. The PML-N has 301 MPAs in the house, while 10 independent legislators also voted for Mamnoon.
In Balochistan too, Mamnoon got massive support. Of all 56 MPAs, 55 voted for him. Surprisingly, PTI candidate Wajihuddin also secured a vote in the assembly where his party has no representation. However, since the presidential election is through secret ballot, it wasn’t known who voted for him.
Almost all parties represented in the assembly supported the PML-N candidate. These included even the PML-Q which, in the centre and other provinces, boycotted the process.
The total strength of the Balochistan Assembly is 65. Three seats are vacant, while two members of the BNP-Mengal and one member of the BNP-Awami were not eligible to vote since they have yet to be sworn in as MPAs.
In Sindh, the PPP is in power. The party has 91 members in the 163-strong house. In Tuesday’s voting the PML-N nominee, Mamnoon Hussain, secured 64 votes against five votes of his rival Wajihuddin. According to the formula, Mamnoon’s 64 votes make 25 votes, while Wajihuddin’s are two electoral votes.
The PTI has four MPAs in the assembly, but surprisingly, Wajihuddin polled one extra vote. Though the PML-N has 10 seats in the assembly, but 48 lawmakers of the MQM and 10 of PML-F also voted for Mamnoon. Ninety MPAs of the PPP stayed away from the process. Three lawmakers of the PML-N and MQM were absent.
K-P was the only province where the PML-N candidate lost to Wajihuddin. Of the 110 votes polled, Wajihuddin got 69, while Mamnoon secured 41 votes. After applying the formula, Wajihuddin’s electoral votes became 36, while Mamnoon has 24 electoral votes.
The PTI, which is in power in K-P, had the support of its ally Jamaat-e-Islami, while the JUI-F voted for the PML-N candidate. The ANP and PPP boycotted the vote.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2013.