Imran Khan’s party PTI candidate Sadiq Sanjrani won the election for the post of Chairman of the Senate, the upper house of the Pakistani Parliament. Sadiq defeated former Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani. While Prime Minister Imran Khan has received a big relief after the victory in the Senate Presidential election, the opposition has received a shock. PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto has been furious over the defeat even after the United Opposition has more MPs in the Senate, and has accused the Election Officer of wrongly canceling 7 votes.
Bilawal Bhutto lashed out at the election results on Friday following the defeat of PPP leader Gilani. He has said that he will challenge this election result in the High Court. Former Prime Minister Gilani said that 7 votes were declared illegal by the election officer in an illegal and partisan manner. All these 7 votes were in favor of Geelani. Gilani received 42 votes in the election, while PTI leader Sadiq received 48 votes.
Despite having a majority in the upper house, he had to face defeat.
If 7 more votes were added to Geelani, he would have won but the election officer declared him invalid. The election results are a setback for the joint opposition as it had to face defeat despite having a majority in the upper house. A total of 98 senators voted in the election. According to the Dawn newspaper, the opposition challenged the election results when it was announced that seven votes cast in favor of opposition candidate Geelani were rejected.
At the same time, the presiding officer Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah rejected his objection saying that seven votes were rejected because they were not stamped. One vote was rejected because it was in favor of both candidates. The opposition Pakistan Democratic Movement fielded Geelani and Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Hydari for the posts of Chairman and Deputy Chairman respectively. The government had already announced that outgoing Chairman Sanjrani would be its candidate for another term.
Prime Minister Khan nominated Senator Mirza Mohammad Afridi for the post of Deputy Chairman. Hidden cameras and microphones were found at a polling station. The opposition described it as a case of ‘Watergate’. According to the Constitution, Senate elections are held by secret ballot. The opposition indirectly pointed a finger at the country’s espionage agency for this work and it was being said that Sanjrani was allegedly backed by the military establishment.
Out of total 100 votes in the Upper House, 98 votes were cast.
A day before the vote, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf administered the oath to its senators on the Koran to vote for sanjrani. A senator boycotted the election, saying that both the government and the opposition did not deserve his vote. Sanjrani was sworn in as the Chairman and then an election was held for the post of Deputy Chairman. Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Hydari was the joint candidate of the opposition while Mirza Mohammad Afridi was the ruling party candidate.
Afridi received 54 votes while Hyderi received 44 votes. Out of total 100 votes in the Upper House, 98 votes were cast and no votes were rejected. The opposition has 52 members in the upper house while the ruling coalition has 47 senators. Meanwhile, the opposition has written a letter to the presiding officer demanding that a committee of the Senate be constituted to investigate the incident related to spy cameras.