LAHORE - Apart from other considerations, religious thoughts did have an impact on the voting pattern in Thursday’s Senate elections in Punjab.

A PML-N lawmaker, Ilyas Chinioti, refused to vote for Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid as he suspected the minister to be a Qadiani. A day before the polling, he conveyed his reservations to the leadership that he did not consider Mr Rashid a true Muslim and hence he would not be voting for him.  

“At a party meeting at 90-Shahra-e-Quaid-e-Azam on Wednesday, also attended by Pervaiz Rashid, I asked an additional secretary of the chief minister secretariat to convey my message to the chief minister to change my panel which was supposed to vote for Mr Rashid,” Chinioti told The Nation outside Punjab Assembly after casting his vote in favor of another candidate.

He further told that Rana Sanaullah tried his best to persuade him to vote for the desired candidate but he refused. “I asked Pervaiz Rashid to condemn the founder of Qadiani sect Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to prove he was a true Muslim but he refused to do so saying that he did not want to seek vote in the name of religion,” he quoted his conversation with the federal minister who claimed he was a Sunni Muslim.   

Asked how he believed that Mr Rashid belonged to Qadiani community, Mr Chinioti said that it was Pervaiz Rashid who took Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to the site of an attack on a Qadiani Mosque at Garhi Shahoo, Lahore a few years back and also asked the prime minister to condemn those who had killed the Qadianis at that time. Ilyas said he was an active member of Khatam-e- Naboowat Movement and could not vote for a Qadiani.

“Upon my request the leadership changed my panel and I voted for Dr Ghous,” he added. In a related development, two other PML-N lawmakers, Jamal Leghari and Mian Tahir Pervaiz did not vote for another PML-N candidate, Professor Sajid Mir, a noted religious figure who is also head of Jamiat-e-Ahle Hadith.

Both voted for Raja Zafarul Haq instead after a convincing argument with the leadership. “I had reservations against the candidature of Sajid Mir who is from another party,” Jamal Leghari told The Nation.

He further said that it was hard for him to vote for any person against his conscience.

Mian Tahir Pervaiz when contacted confirmed that he did not vote for Professor Mir due to personal reasons. He, however, did not divulge the nature of his differences with the head of Ahle Hadith, saying that everything had now been settled with Mr Mir. He also confirmed that he voted for Raja Zafarul Haq after his panel was changed on his request.