Gillani vs Shaikh: PDM scores major victory over PTI in key Senate battle

Senate elections 2021: Yousaf Raza Gillani secured 169 votes to beat Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, who received 164 votes

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ISLAMABAD: After a hotly contested electoral battle, former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani emerged victorious against the ruling party's Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh.

After the result was announced, Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and the former prime minister shook hands and hugged each other. The news of Hafeez's defeat was told to him by Zain Qureshi — who was the minister's polling agent — following which the two men embraced each other.

Gillani secured 169 votes while Shaikh received 164 votes. Out of the total number of 341 votes, 6 were rejected and 1 was not polled.

Gillani's certificate of election for the Senate seat has also been duly issued by the ECP.

'This is the victory of democracy'

Shortly after the announcement of his victory in the Senate election, Yousaf Raza Gillani held a press conference and said that he is thankful to the PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari as well as the PDM leadership, including PML-N's Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Akhtar Mengal,  Maryam Nawaz, and ANP leadership, among others.

"This is the victory of democracy," he said. "The Islamabad seat was the most important seat in the Senate elections and everyone was eyeing it. [Through my win], the PDM has been victorious."

Adding to Gillani's point, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said that the PDM has won through the votes of MNAs, which is also a win for Pakistan.

He went on to say that PM Imran Khan should "resign from his post," adding that he should adopt sportsmanship and honourably accept his defeat. 

"The PDM will decide a future course of action after mutual consultation with all members."

Earlier, the PPP chief had tweeted that "Democracy is the best revenge". 

Former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani shakes Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh's in parliament. Photo: Geo News screengrab

Similarly, PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz celebrated Gilani's victory, urging PM Imran Khan to resign and "leave the [prime minister's] seat".

'Money won': Dr Firdous Awan reacts to Gilani's win

Special Assistant to the Chief Minister on Information, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan reacted to Shaikh's loss by saying that "money had won".

Read more: Senate election 2021: Results start pouring in as counting of votes continues

Official results announcing Gillani's victory will be announced later, say sources.

Former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani stands beside Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in parliament. Photo: Geo News screengrab

Geo News anchor Shahzeb Khanzada termed it a huge upset for Prime Minister Imran Khan since he had personally campaigned for Shaikh and had managed to win over most of the government's allies.

Khanzada said that Gillani's victory could make the prime minister even more upset with Shehryar Afridi, who wasted his vote when he signed the ballot papers.

Senior ministers of the government such as Fawad Chaudhry and Sheikh Rashid had earlier claimed that Sheikh would defeat the former prime minister easily.

Analyst Irshad Bhatti agreed with Khanzada, saying that it was a "huge upset" for the government, adding that his earlier prediction that the former prime minister would lose had been proved wrong.

'Zardari has won and Imran Khan has lost'

Senior analyst Mazhar Abbas said that this was, in reality, a victory for former president Asif Ali Zardari and a loss for Prime Minister Imran Khan.

"It was Zardari who urged the PDM to delay the long march and contest the Senate elections," he said, adding that a no-confidence movement against the prime minister could be successful.

Capital Talk host Hamid Mir said that before the result was announced, he spoke to Zardari over the phone and could hear people celebrating in the background.

Mir said that he could hear Rukhsana Bhangash and PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari celebrating in the background. "Bilawal was saying repeatedly,"'We have won, we have won.'"

The veteran journalist, however, said that the government will not accept Gilani's victory easily and will do its utmost to disqualify the former prime minister.

"I reiterate, the government and Prime Minister Imran Khan will not accept this election result," he said.

'Hafeez Shaikh equally to blame for loss'

Bhatti said that Shaikh was equally to blame for his loss to Gilani, adding that he was not particularly popular with parliamentarians and was not known for socialising with them.

Naya Pakistan host Shahzad Iqbal said that while the PTI's accusations that the Senate elections were influenced by money may have some credibility, it was also true that Shaikh was unpopular in the party as well. 

"Could it be that he was an unpopular technocrat and was not a member of the party?" wondered Iqbal, adding that the numbers proved that the PPP leader did secure votes from the parliament.

'PM Imran Khan's suspicions, fears proven true'

Reacting to the news of PTI's Hafeez Sheikh's loss in the Senate election, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz said that the results of Islamabad's Senate election have proven "PM Imran Khan's suspicions and fears true."