Polling for Senate elections in NA, Sindh, Punjab legislatures concludes

In Local
April 02, 2024


The polling for 19 vacant Senate seats in the National and provincial assemblies concluded on Tuesday with dozens contesting for the spots.

The polling was conducted in the provincial legislatures of Sindh and Punjab. Senators from Balochistan were elected unopposed. A total of 18 senators were elected unopposed including 11 from Balochistan.

The polling commenced at 9 am and concluded at 4 pm.

Polling did not commence in the K-P Assembly at 9 am as per schedule and around two hours later, the process was postponed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) “on account of delay of oaths of reserved seats”.

The ECP issued a notification of poll postponement and referred to its earlier March order in which it rejected a petition from the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) seeking the allocation of reserved seats.

Anticipation is rife as parties within the ruling coalition, notably the PML-N and PPP, eye a potential bolstering of their ranks towards a formidable two-thirds majority in the upper echelons of parliament.

On the flip side, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), is expected to maintain its dominance as the foremost party in the new legislative body. However, its clout might falter in thwarting the governmental legislative agenda.

To ensure a seamless electoral process, the ECP has deployed several measures, including the printing of ballot papers in different colours – white for general seats, green for technocrats, pink for women, and yellow for minority representation.

Moreover, the logistical groundwork has been laid out, with the transportation of election materials to returning officers completed.

These officers have issued the final roster of candidates vying for the 48 vacant Senate seats, encompassing 29 general, eight women, nine technocrats/Ulema, and two non-Muslim slots.

A potential snag looms large in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where the Senate elections for 11 seats could face a delay should the K-P Assembly speaker baulk at administering the oath to women and minority lawmakers-elect from the PML-N on reserved seats, as cautioned by the electoral watchdog.

The stakes are high as these elections aim to fill the void left by half of the incumbent senators who bid adieu upon the expiration of their six-year terms on March 12. Out of the 52 retiring senators, elections are slated for 48 seats, with four positions abolished following the integration of former federally administered tribal areas (FATA) into Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

With the Senate’s total seat count dwindling from 100 to 96, the ECP has issued a comprehensive code of conduct, urging parties and candidates to uphold electoral integrity and refrain from engaging in corrupt or illegal activities.

Number game

According to calculations, PTI boasts 20 members presently, with the potential to snag seven more from their Khyber Pakhtunkhwa stronghold. This will hand the party impressive 27 senators.

Meanwhile, if every MNA and MPA toes the party line, the PPP faces smooth sailing, anticipated to secure 10 to 11 seats from Sindh, plus one each from K-P and Islamabad.

With 13 senators in their pocket, the PPP eyes a significant boost, poised to nab 12 to 13 more seats, landing them the runner-up spot with 25 to 26 members in the revamped Senate.

Read PTI to take ‘oath of loyalty’ from MPs for Senate polls

Not to be outdone, the PML-N, presently with 13 senators, eyes an expansion, eyeing seven more seats — five from Punjab and one each from K-P and Islamabad. This projected haul would secure their status as the Senate’s third powerhouse.

Interestingly, the Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakhtunkhwa Mili Awami Party, and PML-Functional face a Senate exodus as their members retire in March. With their Senate presence dwindling to zero, they’ve opted out of the race, aligning with the prevailing assembly dynamics.

In Punjab, after purportedly striking a deal under the table, the nation’s three heavyweight parties – the PML-N, PPP, and PTI – have secured a clean sweep in the upper house of parliament. All seven contenders vying for the province’s general seats have coasted to victory unchallenged.

Out of this fortunate seven, four champions ride the PML-N’s chariot to success, while the remaining two owe their triumph to the PTI-Sunni Ittehad Council alliance.

With the stage seemingly set, three contenders are left to duke it out for the two technocrat seats following the graceful exit of Mustafa Ramday from the fray.

Meanwhile, a spirited competition is expected from Sindh as 11 contenders battle for the coveted seven general seats from the province. Furthermore, the stakes are high with three aspirants vying for the two reserved seats for women, while four eager hopefuls vie for the two technocrat/ulema slots.

Adding to the mix, two candidates throw their hats into the ring for the lone seat reserved for minorities.

Sindh’s political landscape takes an interesting turn with Faisal Vawda, reportedly backed by powerful circles, throwing his hat into the ring as an independent contender.

With the PPP’s stronghold evident in the provincial assembly, a strategic move to support Vawda could potentially secure at least five out of the seven general seats, leaving one seat for MQM-P.

However, should all proceed as planned, the PPP appears poised to sweep the remaining five seats from the province – securing both women and technocrat slots, alongside the minority representation.

On the other hand, The PTI-ruled K-P braces for an enthralling showdown as the MPAs gear up to cast their votes, determining the fate of 11 senators, with seven seats up for grabs in the general category.

 

 

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