ID :
Sun, 09/07/2008 - 10:50
Auther :

Early lead for Zardari in Pak presidential polls

Rezaul H. Laskar

Islamabad, Sep 6 (PTI) Ruling Pakistan People's Party
chief Asif Ali Zardari on Saturday established an early lead
in the country's presidential election, securing a majority of
votes cast by members of a provincial assembly which is part
of the electoral college.

The widower of slain former premier Benazir Bhutto
secured 107 votes in the 124-member assembly of the North West
Frontier Province, state-run P.T.V. reported.

Saeed-uz-Zaman Siddiqui, fielded by the P.M.L.-N. party
of former premier Nawaz Sharif, bagged 10 votes while Mushahid
Hussain Syed, the candidate of the P.M.L.-Q., got only three
votes. Four votes were rejected.

Under the complicated formula used for counting the votes
cast in provincial assemblies, the 107 votes polled by Zardari
will have an actual weightage of 56 votes. Only the votes cast
by members of the 100-strong Senate and 342-member National
Assembly, the two houses of parliament, are counted in
the normal fashion.

Voting was suspended in the N.W.F.P. assembly for a while
after a woman legislator showed her ballot paper to other
members. The presiding officer suspended polling for some time
but it resumed later.

Pakistani parliamentarians and legislators of four
provincial assemblies voted in the polls that are expected to
be swept by Zardari.

Zardari is set to win despite the P.M.L.-N.'s decision
last month to pull out of the ruling coalition as the P.P.P.
has the backing of several smaller parties and independent

Chief Election Commission Qazi Muhammad Farooq supervised
the polling in a joint sitting of the two houses of
parliament. Voting was held simultaneously in the four
provincial assemblies of Punjab, Sindh, North West Frontier
Province and Balochistan.

The voting through secret ballot began at 10 a.m. (local
time) and would end at 3 p.m. The Election Commission is
expected to announce the unofficial result shortly after the
end of polling.

The election was necessitated by the resignation last
month of former President Pervez Musharraf, who stepped down
to avoid impeachment by the coalition.

A week after his resignation, the P.M.L.-N. pulled out of
the alliance, accusing Zardari of reneging on promises to
restore judges deposed during last year's emergency and to
field a non-partisan candidate for the presidential polls.

Musharraf had swept the last presidential election held
in October last year to obtain a second five-year term, but
the P.P.P. and P.M.L.-N. had opposed his re-election, saying
the electoral college had comprised the national and
provincial assemblies that were on the verge of completing
their terms.