Polling for 12 Senate seats starts in KP Assembly
APP Digital
Report by Shafek Koreshe

A viral video of Yusuf Raza Gilani’s son, seeking the support of PTI MNAs and telling them how to get votes rejected, to ensure the success of his father, caused a furore hours before the crucial Senate polls on March 3.

The video purportedly of Ali Haider Gilani, son of a joint opposition candidate for the much-hyped Senate polls, Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, went viral Tuesday in which he could be heard telling PTI members how to get their votes rejected, or to write specific numbers for identification of the voters at a later stage.

The former Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani Pakistan Peoples Party candidate for a Senate seat from Islamabad has been fielded jointly by the opposition alliance under the banner of the Pakistan Democratic Alliance (PDM) against the government’s candidate Abdul Hafeez Sheikh.

The “leaked video” that was aired by several news channels showed a few people – PTI members, reportedly from Karachi, being asked to vote for the opposition candidate. Ali Haider Gilani asks them to get their votes rejected in the worst case.

In the video, Ali Gilani is heard telling them to fold their ballot paper like a kite if the Election Commission of Pakistan does not put any number on the ballot paper. [The video is reportedly a week old].

However, if the ballot paper is without any numbers or identifiers, then the PTI members need to write numbers 60, 23, 7, 11 so that these can be later identified for the payments. He specifically gives them the numbers and also writes them down for his record.

The faces of the people with whom Ali Gilani is talking cannot be seen. However, one of the person says that they have the support of four. It was not clear who made the video, and how it got leaked.

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However, according to Arshad Sharif, a senior journalist for the ARY News Channel the money was being offered to four PTI MNAs. He also aired a telephonic conversation allegedly of Nasir Hussain Shah, the PPP Minister in the Sindh Government in which Gilani can be heard saying that the deal was okayed by Asif Ali Zardari himself. However, Nasir Hussain Shah later denied that it was his voice in the ARY’s program “Power Play” and said he did not talk to Ali Gilani.

Ali Gilani earlier in a press conference at Multan admitted that it was his video and said being a politician he meets many people and he would meet them again. He described the PTI MNAs as his friends. He said it was his right to ask for a vote and it was up to them to vote according to their conscience. The PTI later termed it to be a confession on part of Ali Gilani for trying to bribe its MNAs.

The leakage of video just a day ahead of the crucial Senate polls triggered a strong reaction from not only the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf workers and party leaders, but also the general public, who cried foul.

Strong support for the open ballot, a cause pursued by Prime Minister Imran Khan, emerged, as the people took to the social media platforms to reject the traditional horse-trading seen in the past for the Senate elections.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan in its judgment a day earlier said the process should be secret, as provided in the Constitution of Pakistan, however, asked the Election Commission of Pakistan to ensure that measures were taken to ensure transparency in the voting.

The Election Commission however after a series of deliberations said, owing to the paucity of time it could not take any new measures and the voting would be done “as per the past practice.”

ECP Senate Polls

ECP Senate Polls

A spokesperson of the Election Commission of Pakistan in a statement said it would initiate “an investigation on merit” of the viral video.

Minister for Science and Technology Ch Fawad Hussain in a tweet said the Election Commission of Pakistan has taken note of the video and termed it a welcome step. He said the PTI would also file a reference against the disqualification of the joint PDM candidate Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani.

Later two PTI leaders Kanwal Shauzab MNA and Farrukh Habib MNA talked to the media outside the Election Commission of Pakistan and submitted their reference to disqualify Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani from the Senate elections.

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PTI leaders Kanwal Shauzab MNA and Farrukh Habib MNA submitted a reference to the ECP to disqualify Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani from the Senate elections

They said the candidate violated the law and the Constitution of Pakistan, and for being involved in criminal activity with the corroboration with his real son and for violating Sections 167, 168, 169, and 170. They sought his punishment under section 174 of the Election Act 2017.

Later Ali Haider Gilani in a tweet said it was in fact he who was approached by different MNA’s at several occasions, “as they are not happy with the candidate selection of PTI and it’s their right to vote against their party candidate if they will. It’s a pertinent question as to if this is the Govt’s last shot at saving face!” he claimed.

The Senate polls will be hotly contested for two seats in Islamabad, 11 each in Punjab and Sindh, and 12 each in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. Due to an unopposed election on 11 seats in Punjab, there will be no polls in the province.

-Report by Shafek Koreshe