All set for Senate election on Saturday

All set for Senate election on Saturday”

Pakistan held elections for its Senate to elect 52 members of the house for the next six years on Saturday amid strict measures to ensure transparency, the Election Commission said.

Fielding of more candidates than their relative strength by some political parties has lend credence to allegations of horse-trading.

Cellphones and other electronic devices are also not allowed into the provincial assembly after commencement of the voting process. Twenty four votes will be required to win a single general seat from the Sindh Assembly.

PML-N is likely to emerge the majority party in Senate after the elections.

Resultantly, Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo of the PML-Q took the oath as new CM though the party had only five seats in the provincial assembly.

There are 65 candidates who are independent and they also include 23 from ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N).

Prominent among those contesting polls from Punjab against the seven general seats from Punjab include former Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar on a PTI ticket, Kamil Ali Agha (PML-Q) and PML-N-backed Asif Kirmani, Musadik Malik, Haroon Akhtar Khan and Rana Mehmoodul Hassan.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Shafqat Mehmood has confirmed that his party's chairperson Imran Khan will not cast vote in the Senate elections.

"I am a great supporter of direct election of the Senate to avoid such situation", he said.

There are 24 candidates in the run for four FATA seats.

There are five candidates for two Senate seats from Islamabad, 20 candidates from Punjab, and 33 from Sindh against 12 seats each. But they can not use the PML-N name and platform due to a recent Supreme Court order which declared former prime minister Nawaz Sharif ineligible to head his own party and announced that all decisions taken by him as party president stood null and void.

Some up-sets are expected in this election, especially from Balochistan where the PML-N is likely to lose two or three seats due to horse-trading.

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PML-N leader Zaeem Qadri, while speaking to the media outside the parliament, said that members of the party would prove that Nawaz Sharif does not need a title to run the party.

The PPP would be the second largest party in the house whose 18 senators are going to retire on March 11. Keeping in view its strength in the provincial assemblies, the PPP would secure around 17 plus seats in the election.

Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party and the National Party will be able to improve their representation in the Senate. Of these, 21 are PML-N members, 14 PkMAP members, five PML-Q, eight JUI-F, 11 National Party, two from the BNP, a lawmaker each from the MWM, the ANP and the BNP-A, and one independent member.

The PML-Q, the PML-F and the Balochistan National Party (Awami) would disappear from the house for the next three years. Similarly, eight candidates are contesting election on women and five on technocrat seats.

The Senate has 104 members elected for six years but half of them retire every three years on completion of term.

The Senate election is held through secret voting on a basis of single transferable vote through "preference voting".

All four provincial assemblies are electoral college for the four respective assemblies; Fata MNAs will elect Fata senators, while members of Nation Assembly will elect senators from Islamabad.

Punjab Assembly has total 371 seats but its existing strength is 367.

The analyst said that the PML-N would win at least 15 seats in the elections as it has more than a two-thirds majority in eastern Punjab province assembly and in the National Assembly, the lower house of the parliament.

For technocrat and women seats, the candidates overpowering their rivals would be declared.

The total seats in Sindh are 168, but there are now only 167 lawmakers occupying them. According to rules, 18 votes will be required to win a general seat from KPK. Currently, 95 of them are members of the PPP, 50 are members of MQM, nine are lawmakers representing PML-F, nine PML-N, four PTI, one National Peoples Party and one is an independent lawmaker.

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