Friday Mar 12 2021
Web Desk

Govt candidates emerge victorious in hotly-contested Senate chairman election

Web Desk
Picture showing Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani and Deputy Chairman Senate Mirza Mohammad Afridi. Photo: Senate of Pakistan/ Twitter.

The much-awaited Senate chairman election concluded on Friday evening, with government-backed candidates Sadiq Sanjrani and Mirza Mohammad Afridi emerging as the victors.

In the race for chairman, Sadiq Sanjrani defeated Opposition candidate Yousaf Raza Gillani with 48 votes, while Gillani received 42 votes.

On the other hand, government candidate Mirza Mohammad Afridi won the election for the deputy chairman of the Senate with 54 votes, defeating Opposition's Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, who grabbed 44 votes.

Number of government members in Senate
Votes for Sadiq Sanjrani48
Difference between votes received and government's actual numbers 01
Difference between Gilani and Sanjrani's votes 
Number of Opposition members in Senate
Votes for Yousaf Raza Gillani 
Rejected votes
Difference between Gillani and Sanjrani's votes

Number of Opposition members in Senate51
Votes for Abdul Ghafoor Haideri44
Difference between Haider and Afridi's votes07
Number of government members in Senate
Votes for Mirza Afridi54
Difference between votes received and government's actual numbers 07 

The Presiding Officer, Senator Syed Muzafar Hussain Shah of the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional, administered the oath of chairman to Sanjrani. 

During the counting, seven votes cast for Yousaf Raza Gillani were rejected. According to the presiding officer, the stamps were not placed correctly on the ballot paper which rendered them null and void.

Once the winner was announced, however, Opposition members of the Senate protested the decision of the presiding officer to reject the votes, saying that no instructions had been provided to the voters as to where the stamp should be placed.

While Sanjrani was taking the oath as the newly-elected chairman of the Senate, members of the Opposition continued to chant slogans.

The polling for the Senate chairman's post started at 3pm, presided over by officials from the Senate Secretariat. The process of voting completed at 4:40 pm, but counting started after the official time, i.e. 5pm. The polling time for the election of the deputy chairman of the Senate was completed at 6:59pm, while the results were announced at 7:08pm.

Earlier in the day, the newly-elected members of the Upper House had taken their oath of office shortly after the session began at 10am.

Opposition argues about 7 rejected votes cast for Gillani

Following the announcement that seven votes cast for Yousaf Raza Gillani were rejected because the stamps were not correctly placed on the ballot paper, PPP Senator Farooq H Naik told the presiding officer that he doesn't "have the right to reject the vote if it has been stamped outside the box in front of the candidate's name."

"The rejected votes that you are talking about have been stamped within the boxes in front of the candidates' names," Naik said, adding that the rules are silent regarding where one can stamp on the ballot paper.

"Why should the voter suffer due to the mistake of the secretariat," questioned Naik.

In response to the argument, the presiding officer said that the stamp must be placed in front of the candidate's name to be considered valid.

Opposition vows to go to election tribunal to contest vote rejection

PPP's Qasim Gillani, the son of Yousaf Raza Gillani, announced that the Opposition parties will approach the election tribunal and challenge the rejection of votes.

Speaking to Geo News, Kunwar Dilshad, the former secretary of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), said that a decision related to the matter will be taken by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. 

Speaking to media after the Senate chairman's election, Opposition leaders, including PPP's Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and PML-N's Ahsan Iqbal, said that the rejection of votes cast for Yousaf Raza Gillani was "deliberate," adding that Gillani, as the representative of the PDM, has won the Senate chairman election.

"The way the government has stolen the election is an insult to the Parliament," said Ashraf.

PM Imran Khan observes election from PM House

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan observed the Senate battle from the PM House, Geo News reported.

Sources said the premier will visit Sohawa after the Senate elects its new chairman and deputy chairman.