Islamabad, March 3
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 majority 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 election. Gilani was supported by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an alliance of 11-member opposition parties.
Interestingly, Shaikh was minister in the cabinet of former prime minister Gilani during his tenure from 2008 to 2012.
Shehbaz Gill, a government spokesman, said 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. Five votes were rejected in their case.
The members of the Senate – the upper house of parliament – are elected for six-year terms. PTI