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Candidates backed by Pakistan's ruling party win Senate polls

Candidates backed by Pakistan's ruling party win Senate polls

Ahead of Senate elections, it was generally believed that a good number of party parliamentarians would defect from the ruling PML-N, and it would serve as a big blow to the party both in terms of loss in Senate elections as well as electable candidates in the upcoming general elections.

A day after securing 12 of the 52 Senate seats, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said on Sunday that his party was in contact with all opposition parties to elect its chairman in the upper house of parliament.

Strict security measures had been taken outside buildings of Parliament house and the four provincial assemblies which were declared as the polling stations.

Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) managed to secure six seats, including five from KP Province and one from Punjab. Of the 52 Senate seats being vacated for election, 46 will be filled by the four provincial assemblies, two by the National Assembly, and four by lawmakers representing Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA).

The result may revive the political fortunes of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who has clashed with the judiciary since the Supreme Court ended his premiership in July by disqualifying him from office over undeclared assets.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has also declared the Sindh Assembly's Senate election as most transparent, he added.

At the same time, it has also removed a lot of apprehensions shrouding the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) that major fissures in its ranks would get exposed in these elections.

The PPP, which was leading the Senate by having a majority, has dropped to the second position with 20 seats whereas the PTI is the third strongest party in the chamber with total 12 members.

Such apprehensions got credence following the political debacle the PML-N led government in Balochistan had faced, and not only the party's chief minister had to resign in an unceremonious way but the total strength of the PML-N parliamentary party in the province also slipped out of their hands. The eight-member delegation led by Dr Saima, president Fata women chapter of the party, included office bearers from nearly all tribal agencies.

Unlike the last Senate election in 2015, lawmakers were prohibited from taking their phones into the assemblies during the vote. They are not all elected at the same time: rather, half are elected at one time, and the other half three years later.

Pakistan's Minister for Planning, Development, and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal, who is secretary-general of the PML-N, said, "We are humbled by the victory in Senate election 2018".

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