Following the defeat of Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) joint candidate Yousuf Raza Gilani against the ruling coalition’s Sadiq Sanjrani during the election of Senate chairman, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Friday said that they have decided to challenge the result in the high court after consultation with other leaders of the alliance including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz.
“All seven rejected votes were valid. If you count these then Yousuf Raza Gilani is the Senate chairman. We will challenge the undemocratic and illegal decision in the court,” he said while addressing a press conference in Islamabad flanked by Gilani and other PPP leaders.
98 senators from the upper house exercised their right to vote in today’s election. Sanjrani, the PTI-backed candidate, received 48 votes while his opponent Gilani could only manage 42. Seven votes were rejected.
The votes were rejected by the presiding officer, Syed Muzafar Hussain Shah, as the ballot papers were stamped on the candidate’s name instead of the box next to it.
“These seven ballot papers are rejected,” announced Shah. He added that one vote was rendered invalid as it was cast in favour of both the candidates.
The opposition challenged the result as at least six of the rejected votes were cast in favour of Gilani.
Bilawal, in today’s presser, hoped that the court would give its verdict in the alliance’s favour as there were previous rulings of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and other courts of law where it was declared that if the intention of the voter is clear then the vote cannot be rejected.
Reacting to PML-N leader Talal Chaudhry’s tweet in which he mocked Bilawal for lauding “neutrality” of the state institutions ahead of Senate polls, the PPP chief said he will not behave like the former after the setback. “I have been fighting for democracy for three generations. Neutrality cannot be achieved overnight, it demands one to face hard times in jail and even face death.”
بلاول بھٹو صاحب! “ نیوٹرل” کا مزہ آیا#BitterTruth #ShameElectionChairmanSenate
— Tallal Chaudry (@Tallal_MNA) March 12, 2021
Bilawal said that PDM’s struggle is to make every institution neutral and allow them to work within their jurisdiction which is not the case at the moment.
He said that ECP is operating in a neutral way but they wanted all state institutions work with neutrality. “No one hands over neutrality to you in plate. You have to fight for it.”
The PPP chief said that any lawyer will clearly prove the irregularities in court as it was an “open and shut case”. “We expect that court will make its rulings as per justice and election rules and the decision will be in the favour of PDM,” he added.
The PPP chairman said that his party has never been given level-playing field in fact despite being aware of rigging in election, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto would contest polls. “We’re democratic people so this is why we continue to contest elections while having faith in courts, constitutions and law.”
Dismissing rumours of any rifts within the PDM ranks, he said that the alliance was fighting the case for democracy in the country. “There is no dent in PDM. We want to win the case for neutrality, which would not be the victory for PPP but the entire PDM and the democracy,” he added.
Bilawal said that despite the odds, PDM is challenging the government on every front. “Even in such an atmosphere, we challenged [PM] Imran Khan and his facilitators. We challenged them at the Senate of Pakistan even though they had engaged in the rigging. Now, they are also trying to blame us for spy cameras in polling booths,” he added.
Saying that the elections had been “stolen”, Yousuf Raza Gilani stressed that the hidden cameras issue had exposed the rigging. “The neutrality of presiding officer has been exposed and bias proved. We’re left with no option but to approach the courts.”
Live: Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is addressing a press…
(This story has been published from The Express Tribune feed, without modifications to the text)