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Pakistan ruling coalition sweeps Senate elections, wins 18 of 19 seats

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Islamabad | April 3, 2024 9:58:28 AM IST
The ruling coalition on Tuesday swept the Senate elections for 19 seats while the polling was postponed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa over a dispute in the swearing-in of Opposition members elected to reserved seats, Dawn reported.

Of the 19 seats for which polling was held on Tuesday, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) bagged 6 seats, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) won 11 while the Muttahida Quami Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) won a lone seat, Dawn reported citing unofficial figures.

The PML-N's numbers in the 96-member House have now risen to 19 while the PPP's are now up to 24. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has 20 members in the Senate.

In a post on X, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif congratulated the successful senators, saying the polls were a continuation of the democratic process.

"It is hoped that senators will play their role for the upliftment of the Constitution and the development of the country. Newly elected senators should participate in effective legislation for public welfare and national development and prosperity," the PM said.

Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz posted, "All PML-N senators elected. Congratulations to all."She expressed hope that the senators would work diligently for the development of the country and the promotion of democracy.

PPP Senator Sherry Rehman also congratulated her party's winning candidates, saying there was a lot of work ahead.

Elections were not held in Balochistan as the lawmakers were elected unopposed on 11 vacant seats last month.

Adding to the list of winning members, Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar won on a technocrat seat from Islamabad, garnering 222 votes while Sunni Ittehad Council's (SIC) Raja Ansar Mehmood came second with 81.

Meanwhile, PPP's Rana Mehmoodul Hassan secured 224 votes to win the general seat in Islamabad while PTI's Farzand Hussain Shah garnered 79 votes.

In Punjab, all seven candidates vying for the general seats in Punjab were elected unopposed at the end of March. The polling was held on two women and technocrat seats each, as well as one minority seat.

Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb and Petroleum Minister Musadiq Malik were successful on the two technocrat seats, garnering 128 and 121 votes, respectively.

In Punjab, PML-N's Anusha Rehman and Bushra Anjum won two seats reserved for women, garnering 125 and 123 votes, respectively. PML-N's Khalil Tahir Sindhu recorded a win on a minority seat, Dawn reported.

Speaking to reporters earlier upon his arrival at the Punjab Assembly, Aurangzeb, who was nominated by the PML-N for the technocrat seat, voiced "full optimism" of his success in the elections.

Assembly Speaker Malik Ahmed Khan also expressed hope that the PML-N would win all the vacant seats from Punjab. He added that coalition partner PPP was supporting his party in the elections.

In Sindh, the ruling PPP secured 10 of the 12 seats for which polling was held. The remaining two were won by the MQM-P and an independent candidate, Dawn reported.

On general seats, PPP's Ashraf Ali Jatoi (22 votes), Dost Ali Jessar (21 votes), Kazim Ali Shah (21 votes), Masroor Ahsan (21 votes), Nadeem Bhutto (21 votes) posted victories.

MQM-P's Amir Chishti (21 votes) and independent Faisal Vawda (21 votes) also won general seats. A day earlier, the PPP withdrew one of its candidates to support Vawda.

On the technocrat seats, PPP's Zamir Ghumro (58 votes) and Sarmad Ali (57 votes) recorded wins. PPP's Rubina Saadat Qaimkhani (57 votes) and Quratulain Marri (58 votes) won two seats reserved for women.

According to Dawn, the PPP's Poonjo Bheel (117 votes) also won a minority seat.

Prior to the polls, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah expressed hope that all PPP candidates would be elected to the Senate.

Speaking to the media persons outside the Sindh Assembly, he said Sarfaraz Rajar withdrew his nomination papers on the party's directives.

In an indirect reference to the PTI, CM Shah said those who made tall claims about springing surprises in the Senate elections eventually retreated and boycotted the polling in Sindh.

Polling in the NA and the provincial assemblies in Sindh and Punjab started at 9 am and concluded at 4 pm.

Ballot papers were printed in four different colours--white papers for general seats, green for technocrat seats, pink for women, and yellow for minority seats.

The Senate was dissolved on March 11 following the retirement of 52 lawmakers.

While the polling in KP did not begin at 9 am as scheduled, but about two hours later, it was deferred by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) "on account of delay of oaths of reserved seats".

KP election commissioner Shamshad Khan reached the assembly and sought a list of the MPAs sworn in from the assembly staff. At the same time, the Opposition petitioned the ECP to postpone the Senate elections there.

Subsequently, the ECP issued a notification of the deferment of polling, citing its March order wherein it had rejected a petition filed by the Sunni Ittehad Council -- the new face of the PTI -- seeking the allocation of reserved seats, Dawn reported.

Recalling that the Peshawar High Court (PHC) upheld its decision, the ECP noted that "no arrangement for oath was made". It added that the RO for the Senate polls informed the electoral watchdog today that assembly speaker Babar Saleem Swati had still "not arranged oath".

"The commission is of the considered view that the standards of honesty, justness and fairness of election as provided in Article 218(3) of the Constitution cannot be fulfilled due to non-administration of oath to elected members and which amounts to disenfranchisement of lawful voters and denial of level playing field to the voters," the ECP said.

Stating that the electoral college was 'incomplete', the ECP deferred the elections till the administration of oaths to the MPAs-elect on reserved seats under Article 218(3) of the Constitution read with sections 4(1), 8(c) and 128 of the Elections Act, 2017.

Last week, the ECP hinted at postponing the Senate elections for KP if Swati kept on delaying their oath-taking. The speaker had filed a review petition yesterday against the PHC order wherein it had directed him to administer oaths to 25 opposition MPAs elected to reserved seats.

Meanwhile, KP Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur vowed that he would not let 'illegal people' take oath--referring to the MPAs-elect belonging to the opposition parties -- and vowed to "go to the very end" for that.

Speaking to media in Peshawar, he insisted the opposition was "violating the Constitution continuously". Lamenting that reserved seats were 'snatched' from the SIC, the PTI stalwart vowed that his party would "take back our right".

Gandapur added that the PTI would summon its parliamentary meeting and pass a resolution on the matter.

KP Opposition Leader Dr Ibadullah Khan assailed Swati and CM Gandapur for becoming 'tigers' of former premier Imran Khan instead of fulfilling their duties.

The PML-N leader termed it 'unfortunate' that Senate elections could not be held in KP saying the provincial government did not follow court orders, the ECP, the Constitution or the law but only the 'directives' given by Imran.

Speaker Swati said the Opposition parties had not presented the 'correct facts' before the PHC, adding that they had said an assembly session had been summoned when it had not been.

He reiterated that he could not administer the oaths as ordered by the PHC as a session of the House had not been summoned. Swati said his review petition sought "further directives and clarification" on the matter, adding that he would follow what the PHC orders.

Later in the day, Opposition members filed a petition in the PHC seeking contempt of court proceedings against speaker Swati and KP Deputy Speaker Suraiya Bibi for not implementing its order of administering oaths to MPAs-elect on reserved seats.

The petitioners included PPP's Shazia Tehmas Khan, Faiza Malik and PML-N's Shazia Jadoon and Amina Sardar. Filed through Advocate Amir Javed and Saqib Raza, the plea named Swati and Suraiya as respondents in the case, Dawn reported.

It urged the court to initiate contempt proceedings against the two, hand them punishment under the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003 or any other law in the field and convict them under the same. (ANI)

 
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