Pakistan’s Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh was trounced by former premier Yusuf Raza Gilani in the crucial Senate elections on Wednesday, in a major setback for Prime Minister Imran Khan who had personally campaigned for his Cabinet colleague.
The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Party (PTI) had claimed that it enjoyed support of 182 members while 172 votes were needed to elect the senator.
“Yusuf Raza Gilani got 169 votes while Shaikh got 164 votes. Seven votes were rejected. Total number of polled votes was 340,” the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced.
Prime Minister Khan had personally made efforts for Shaikh’s victory in the hotly contested election. Gilani was supported by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an alliance of 11 opposition parties, including the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and the Pakistan Peoples’ Party.
Interestingly, Shaikh was a minister in the cabinet of former prime minister Gilani during his tenure from 2008 to 2012.
Shehbaz Gill, a government spokesman, said that the Opposition won by a margin of five votes while seven votes were rejected. He announced to “challenge the elections”.
In another twist, Fozia Arshad of the ruling party got 174 votes in the same house and defeated PDM-supported candidate Farzana Kausar who received 161 votes. Five votes were rejected in their case.
Meanwhile, Gurdeep Singh of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party on Wednesday became the first turban-clad Sikh representative from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan’s Senate when he defeated rival candidates on a minority seat by a huge margin in the election to the upper chamber of Parliament.
Singh secured 103 votes in the House of 145 whereas Jamiat Ulema-e Islam (Fazlur) candidate Ranjeet Singh secured just 25 votes and Asif Bhatti of the Awami National Party received 12.