PML-N Candidate Raja Zafarul Haq Suffers Major Defeat in Pakistan's Senate Polls
Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani got 57 votes against Raja Zafarul Haq (of PML-N) and has been elected as chairman, said Presiding Officer Sardar Yaqoob Khan Nasar.
File photo of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) candidate Raja Zafarul Haq.
Islamabad: The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) suffered a major setback on Monday when its candidate for Senate chairmanship was defeated by an independent candidate supported by the opposition parties.
Polling to elect the new chairman and his deputy was held in the parliament building.
Presiding Officer Sardar Yaqoob Khan Nasar announced the result of contest for the Senate chairman after all senators had cast their vote.
Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani got 57 votes against Raja Zafarul Haq (of PML-N) and has been elected as chairman, said Nasar.
Sanjrani from Balochistan province was supported by the Joint Opposition, including Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and independents from Balochistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
He is the first ever chairman of Senate from impoverished Balochistan province.
Nasar also administered oath to Sanjrani who immediately took the seat and announced to conduct the elections of deputy chairman.
Saleem Mandviwalla (PPP) from Sindh province was elected as deputy chairman after receiving 54 votes against Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party's Usman Khan Kakar who got 44 votes.
Kakar was supported by PML-N. Five senators of Mutahidda Qaumi Movemen (MQM) abstained from the deputy chairman's election due to differences with PPP.
Earlier, 51 newly elected senators took oath of office.
Only former Finance Minister Ishaq Dar was not present to take the oath as he was away in London due to poor health.
PPP's Krishna Kumari Kolhi scripted history when she was sworn-in as Pakistan's first-ever Hindu Dalit woman Senator. Her arrival was a spectacle as she reached the parliament house with her family in traditional Thari dress, a trademark of Tharparker district of Sindh province.
She told the media that she would work to improve the healthcare and water shortage issues along with efforts to resolve problems faced by the women of Tharparkar.
The strength of the house reduced to 103 from 104 due to absence of PML-N senator-elect Ishaq Dar, who is in London for medical treatment. Hence, winner needs 52 votes.
Initial surveys, media reports and announcement by the PML-N leaders had suggested that Haq will win by a thin margin but in the end he lost by a big margin.
The political parties were scrambling till last minute to get the upper hand through election of Senate chairman.
The ruling PML-N and allies after final consultation in the morning nominated veteran politician from Rawalpindi, Senator Raja Zafarul Haq, as chairman and Usman Kakar from Balochistan as deputy chairman.
Earlier, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari announced to support independent Sadiq Sanjrai, while fielding his party's Mandiviwalla as deputy chairman.
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