Islamabad, Oct 6 (UNI) Securing a fresh five-year term to rule Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf swept today's presidential poll in the absence of any strong challenge to his supremacy.
He secured a total of 671 votes from the electoral college, comprising the National Assembly, Senate and four provincial assemblies, while his only rival, Justice (retd) Wajihuddin Ahmad, secured only eight votes. The third candidate, PPP's Makhdoom Amin Fahim, did not secure a single vote as his party boycotted the election.
According to unofficial results announced by the Chief Election Commissioner Qazi Muhammad Farooq, a total of 257 votes were polled by the members of the National Assembly and Senate, of which Gen Musharraf obtained 252 votes, two went to Justice Ahmed, while three were declared invalid.
In Punjab assembly, Gen Musharraf got 253 votes and Ahmad, two.
In NWFP, Sindh and Balochistan assemblies, the military leader obtained 31, 33 and 104 votes respectively, while his rival got three from NWFP.
PPP candidate Makhdoom Amin Fahim did not secure any vote because his party had boycotted the polls.
There was no official announcement and notification of election and returned candidate as the Supreme Court, hearing fresh petitions by Mr Ahmed and Mr Fahim seeking the General be declared ineligible to contest, had allowed the election to go forward but directed the EC not to declare the result before it decides on the petitions.
The Court is scheduled to hear the petitions of Mr Ahmed and Mr Fahim from October 17.
Gen Musharraf, whose presidential term is due to expire on November 15, 2007, had announced last month he would relinquish the Army Chief's post before taking oath of president for the next term.
''Successful holding of presidential election reflects supremacy of the rule of law in the country,'' Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz told mediapersons in parliament house after announcement of the unofficial results.
Contending that Musharraf's victory showed that people wanted continuity of his policies and unhindered journey to the path of progress and prosperity, he noted the election was held in accordance with the order of the Supreme Court. ''We are all very happy today at the tremendous victory secured by President Musharraf,'' he added.
However, opposition parties refused to give credence to the election saying that Musharraf was not qualified to contest election for a public office while holding office of the Army Chief.
They also said that outgoing assemblies, which will complete thir five year term on November 15 could not elect a president for the next five years.
Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party boycotted voting, a day after government announced withdrawal of corruption cases against the exiled premier. President Musharraf promulgated late yesterday the 'National Reconciliation Ordinance 2007' after negotiations between government and the People's Party chairperson to give immediate relief to the two-time prime minister.
She will get indemnity in all cases that were registered against her and her spouse Asif Ali Zardari by the Nawaz Sharif government.
Altaf Hussain, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement's chief, and Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao are expected to be among the other beneficiaries.
''We are not polling votes in line with our policy that an uniformed president is ineligible to run for the next term,'' Senator Babar Awan of PPP told reporters in Islamabad.
Another PPP leader Safdar Abbasi said that ongoing assemblies cannot elect president for the next term.
''Musharraf's policies have weakened the country with people getting increasingly fed up with the armed forces,'' former deputy parliamentary leader of the Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) Liaqat Baloch said. MMA was among one of the parties in the All Parties Democratic Movement (APDM), whose members had resigned en bloc from the national and provincial assemblies early this week.
The voting started at 1000 hrs and was concluded at 1500 hrs.
Senator Abdul Ghaffar Qureshi was the first to cast his vote at the Parliament House. Former minister of state Shahid Jameel, who is under arrest in the Kafeela Siddiqui murder case, was brought to the Assembly from the jail on production orders issued by the NA Speaker, for voting.