Staff Reporter Islamabad
As the counting of ballot papers started for the Senate chairman election on Friday, a controversy erupted when seven votes apparently cast in favour of the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) joint candidate, Yousuf Raza Gilani, were rejected.
According to official results announced by the presiding officer, the PTI-backed candidate, Sadiq Sanjrani, received 48 votes, while Gilani obtained 42 votes. A total of 98 senators voted in the election.
If the seven rejected votes were added to Gilani’s tally, his total would have amounted to 49 – one more than Sanjrani’s.
Presiding officer Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah said the seven votes were rejected because Gilani’s name had been stamped on, which he ruled was against the instructions.
An eighth vote was rejected because the senator concerned had stamped in front of the names of both candidates.
Elaborating on the correct procedure, Shah said the senators “had to put the stamp inside the box in front of the candidate’s name”. However, in all seven votes in question, the senators had stamped on Gilani’s name instead, he added.
PPP’s Farook H.
Naek, who was also the polling agent for the opposition candidate (Gilani), challenged this view, saying that the instructions did not specify where the senator had to stamp as long as it was done inside the box.
He pointed out that for the seven votes in question, all stamps were inside the box that had Gilani’s name.
PTI’s Mohsin Aziz, however, countered Naek’s argument, reading from a copy of election rules he said were given to senators, saying that it was “written clearly that after obtaining the ballot paper, [the voter] should stamp in front of the candidate’s name”, not on the candidate’s name itself.
The view was echoed by the presiding officer, who rejected Naek’s objections.