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Pakistan's senate election seen as a bellwether for Shahbaz Sharif

06 March 2018

After the recent Senate elections, political leaders have established contacts with independent candidates to claim Chairman and Deputy Chairman posts.

Twelve seats each from Punjab and Sindh, 11 each from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, four from tribal region and two from federal capital territory were up for grab due to retirement of 52 senators this month.

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.

In the elections, 5 candidates from Islamabad are contesting on 2 seats, 20 candidates from Punjab on 12 seats, 33 candidates from Sindh on 12 seats, 26 candidates from KPK on 11 seats, 23 candidates from Balochistan for 11 seats, and 24 candidates from FATA on 4 seats.

There were 65 independent candidates including 23 from the PML-N. The parties which have lost representation in the upper house are PML-Q and BNP-Awami.

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"PMLN now the single largest party in Senate as well, Masha'Allah", Maryam Nawaz Sharif, the former prime minister's daughter tweeted, according to Reuters. Farogh Naseem who supports the Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui-led faction of MQM was the only candidate of the party to emerge victorious in a vote recount.

In Balochistan, a candidate needed just nine votes to become senator while in the biggest province of Punjab, 47 votes are needed to elect a senator. Rukhsana Zuberi and Dr Sikandar Mandhro won the technocrat seats while Anwar Lal Dean won the seat for minorities.

He also underlined the significance of his party managing to bag six seats in the Upper House. Some observers project as much as a 37 seat haul which would fuel momentum for Shahbaz as the PML-N seeks another term in government in the lower house general elections in July.

PTI candidates Faisal Hayat, Muhammad Ayub Afridi, Fida Muhammad, Azam Swati (technocrat) and Mehar Taj Roghni (woman); PPP candidates Bahramand Khan and Rubina Khalid (woman); PML-N backed candidates Pir Sabir Shah and Dilawar Khan; JUI-F's Talha Mehmood; and JI's Mushtaq Khan won the Senate seats. The four candidates who won include Hidayatullah, Hilalur Rehman, Shamim Afridi and Mirza Mohammad Afridi.

Political temperature in the country is on the rise as parties redouble their efforts to strategise alliances ahead of elections for the seat of Senate chairperson and deputy chairperson.

Pakistan's senate election seen as a bellwether for Shahbaz Sharif