N backed independent candidates lead Pakistan Senate's elections

Posted March 04, 2018

Pakistani lawmakers on Saturday began casting votes in secret for new senators in parliament's upper house in an election that looks set to boost the ruling party, as it tries to revive the political fortunes of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Half of the senators are elected for six years, while remaining half for the three years.

"There is broad consensus that system of election for Senate is flawed and we need to improve it", Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had said ahead of polls.

The polling is being held in four provincial assemblies and at the National Assembly in Islamabad.

Among the smaller parties, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazal, National Party and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami party each won two seats, Jamati-e-Islami, Muthahida Qaumi Movement and Pakistan Muslim League Functional each got one seat. Senators are elected by provincial and federal lawmakers and due to proportional representation, even a single vote can make a huge difference. The other 52 were elected in 2015 and will retire in 2021.

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In case of non-compliance the controlling officer will cancel the ballot paper of such persons.

Pakistan's Senate comprises 23 members from each province, eight from FATA and four members from Islamabad. Some local media reports said that 131 candidates are competing now after four candidates have withdrawn from the elections in favor of some other runners.

Two seats are reserved for technocrats and five candidates are contesting for it.

The chart below shows how many votes are needed from each assembly to be successfully elected to a Senate General seat, assuming all lawmakers turn up to vote.

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

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The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had declared the PML-N Senate candidates as independent in the aftermath of the Supreme Court of Pakistan's ruling over the petitions challenging the Election Act 2017, which removed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif as the party president.

From Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, former chief minister Pir Sabir Shah, Ali Afzal Khan Jadoon (backed by the PML-N), Faisal Sakhi Butt (PPP) Talha Mehmood (JUI-F), Maulana Samiul Haq, Azam Swati, Anisa Zeb Tahirkheli, Rubina Khalid and Naeema Kishwar are amongst the prominent candidates.

Imran Khan of PTI said that his party would work to introduce direct elections for senators to root out corruption and use of money. He had been advising the PML-N leadership not to stride the collision course with state institutions including courts.

This is unedited, unformatted feed from the Press Trust of India wire.

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