The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) pulled off a surprise in the Senate elections on Saturday when one of its candidates, former Punjab governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar, won a seat.
According to some PTI sources, the party managed to pull off this victory by winning over disgruntled Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) members and those rendered without seats after the delimitation of constituencies, with the promise that they would be granted PTI tickets in the general elections.
Sources in the party claimed yesterday that the party put in extra effort to ensure that its members remained united.
The PTI members held unofficial discussions with independent members and those from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), and remained in contact with the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Pakistan Muslim League – Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q) legislators.
At a press conference yesterday, senator-elect Sarwar said that the Punjab assembly members voted for him with their “clear conscience and democratic mindset. There is no question of horse-trading”.
He said that the PML-N had been worried about the loyalty of its members and therefore sought their oath before the elections.
The PML-N also employed other tactics to put pressure on their members.
A senior PTI leader said that his party worked on disgruntled PML-N members, including MPAs from Okara, Rahim Yar Khan and Layyah districts, as well as those who were either losing their seats due to fresh delimitation of their constituencies or those who were unsure about getting PML-N tickets for the general elections.
One MPA each from the PML-Q and PPP also voted for Sarwar.
The source said the PTI workers visited Mansoora thrice to ensure that a JI MPA also voted for the former governor.
The PTI’s vice-chairman, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, with Sarwar also met JI leader Sirajul Haq for the purpose.
However, the sources expressed surprise over the fact that PPP got 26 votes “even though there was no attraction of party tickets on the PPP platform”.
At the press conference, Sarwar said the PTI would now be focusing on the general elections to defeat the PML-N.
“The PTI will give PML-N a surprise in the general elections and form government in Punjab as well as at the centre,” he claimed.
Being the third-largest party in the Senate, Sarwar said the PTI core committee would now decide how to vote for the positions of Senate chairperson and deputy chairperson.
Meanwhile, contrary to its expectation of winning six out of 11 seats, the PTI managed to win five seats in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Maulana Samiul Haq and a candidate of the Qaumi Watan Party (QWP), Anisa Zeb Tahirkheli, who were backed by the PTI, also lost the elections.
The party will now determine how and why this happened.
On the instructions of PTI chairman Imran Khan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak has initiated an investigation to identify party members who did not vote for the party-backed candidates.
Chief of his own faction of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Maulana Sami, who contested the election as an independent candidate on a seat reserved for technocrats, bagged only four votes.
According to sources, Khan instructed Khattak to take disciplinary action against the PTI lawmakers who did not vote for the candidates fielded by the party or those supported by it.
They said the PTI leadership had decided that once they were identified, the legislators who did not follow the party’s orders would be expelled.
The PTI has already expelled five MPAs for violating party discipline.
The sources said the PTI leadership believed that about 20 lawmakers of the party did not vote for the party-backed candidates.
They said that after forging an election alliance with the Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao-led QWP, the PTI leadership had expected votes of 69 members for the party’s picks.
A source in the PTI said that the chief minister had formed four committees to look after the PTI affairs for Senate elections in the province.