ISLAMABAD/LAHORE/KARA-CHI – Despite upset on some seats, the PPP-led ruling alliance secured the highest number of Senate’s 54 seats, making its tally to 70 in the House of 104 and thereby gaining ample space to set country’s future roadmap.

With the nine candidates who have already made their way to the upper house unopposed, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) alone secured 19 seats in Friday’s vote that raised its number to 41.

According to unofficial results of 45 general seats, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) emerged as second-top scorer by bagging 8 seats, bringing its tally to 14 and enabling the party to claim slot of Opposition Leader in the Senate. PML-N, which rules Punjab, already has the position of Opposition Leader in the National Assembly. The ruling coalition partner, Awami National Party (ANP) strengthened its position by seven seats while the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) of the ruling alliance bagged four seats each.

However, the results of seven general seats from Balochistan were withheld. It was learnt that there will be recounting of votes for these seats in Islamabad on March 5. The seven new seats have raised ANP’s number of Senators to 12, making it the third largest parliamentary party in the upper house. But the MQM has been now left with 7 seats in Senate, while the JUI-F, which was earlier the main opposition party in the house, has also been left with 7 seats.

The PML-Q, which had largest number of senators before retirement of fifty members of the house, has been left with a total of five members now, despite the help from main coalition partner PPP. The Balochistan National Party (Awami), National Party, PML-Functional have been respectively left with 4, 2 and 1 senators, while the number of Fata group retained its position to 8 after election on four seats.

Senator Afrasyab Khattk would administer oath to the newly elected members on March 12 when the house would also elect its new chairman and deputy chairman.

According to political pundits, the victory of PPP and its allied parties has not only empowered the alliance with two/third majority to reject any piece of legislation but also accorded the PPP Co-Chairman President Asif Ali Zardari with more freedom for manoeuvring. They said this ‘new blood’ will help recover his party, which has been in a long-running conflict with the apex court and military establishment. This would also blunt the calls for early general elections from the opposition quarters.

All of PPP candidates won their respective seats. Aslam Gill was the only exception who lost in the Punjab thanks to party’s flawed election strategy of preventing its legislators from casting second priority votes to its candidates coupled with unexpected desertion by six MPAs.

Mohsin Leghari, a PML-Q man who contested as an independent candidate, was the beneficiary of this PPP folly. Though he made it to the upper house comfortably, mostly because the second priority votes were cast in his favour by legislators belonging to all parties  especially the PML-N  but he also benefited from PPP defections. It turned out to be a big upset in Punjab Senate elections.

Eight candidates were in the run on seven general seats in Punjab. Given the numerical strengthens of the three major parties in Punjab Assembly, only two candidates, Kamil Ali Agha and Mohsin Leghari of the PML-Q needed votes from other parties to make it to the upper house, and only one of them could be elected. Rest of the six seats were clear and every party was supposed to win its respective seats on the basis of their numbers in the assembly.

The electoral battle expected between Mr Agha and Mr Leghari ended up in a contest between Mr Leghari and Aslam Gill of the PPP. Gill’s defeat came as a great surprise for many as 48 party legislators had been instructed to vote in his favour whereas 46.25 votes were actually required for success.

But during the polling, six of PPP legislators ditched the party by not casting their votes in favour of Aslam Gill. He got 42 first priority votes whereas he was supposed to obtain 48. One vote, cast in his favour was rejected due to technical reasons, but the mistake was said to be intentional.

Laila Muqaddas, a PML-N lawmaker who defected to the PPP during Governor’s Rule in Punjab also turned up to cast her vote, but in favour of a PPP candidate.

According unofficial results announced by the Election Commission, Sardar Zulfiqar Khosa of PML-N secured 54 votes, Zafarullah Dhandhla and M Hamza got 52 each while Rafiq Rajwana of the same party obtained 51. Dr Babar Awan of PPP got 47 and Aslam Gill 42. Kamil Ali Agha got 46.4 votes out of which 44 were first priority votes. He also got 10 votes from the PPP.

While the success of Mr Agha became clear during counting of second priority votes, the tie between Mohsin and Gill was decided after counting of fifth priority votes.

Mohsin Leghari got 46. 25 votes out of which 22 were first priority votes. Members of the Unification Bloc and some members from PPP and PML-Q also supported him. Majority of second priority votes came to him from PML-N.

Though officially the PML-N had asked its MPAs to cast only the first priority vote, but they were told on Friday morning before start of the polling to cast second priority vote in favour of Mohsin Leghari. It was because of this reason that many PPP and PML-Q leaders criticised the PML-N leadership terming it poll rigging.

Out of total 369 Punjab Assembly members, 366 exercised their right to vote. Three members, Dr Tahir Ali Javed (Unification Bloc) Dr Asad Moazzam (PPP) and Rana Babar Hussain (PPP) did not turn up to cast their votes. Dr Tahir is reportedly in Canada, while Dr Moazzam, a legislator from Faisalabad did not come as he had joined the PTI. The whereabouts of Rana Babar could not be known. Two seats in Punjab Assembly are lying vacant due to resignations of Shumaila Rana and Shahid Mehmood Khan of the PML-N.

In Sindh, all candidates of PPP-led ruling coalition were elected senators. A total of 164 out of 168 members of Sindh Assembly cast their votes to elect ten senators on general, women and minorities seats.

Two technocrats Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Affairs, of PPP and Barrister Dr Muhammad Farogh Naseem of MQM have already been elected unopposed.

For general and others seats, Committee Room No-1 of Sindh Assembly was declared polling station where voting started at 9am and ended at 4pm. Sindh Election Commissioner Sono Khan Baloch was the presiding officer. He announced the results at the completion of the voting, according which Syed Mustafa Kamal of MQM got 25 votes, Col (r) Tahir Mashadi of MQM 25, Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah of PML-F 22, Dr Karim Khawaja of PPP 22, Mukhtar alias Aajiz Dhamra of PPP 22, Raza Rabbani of PPP 22 and Saeed Ghani of PPP bagged 21 votes on general seats.

On women reserved seats, Mrs Mudassir Saher Kamran of PPP and Ms Nasreen Jalil of MQM got 99 and 57 votes respectively.

On minorities’ seat, Hari Ram of PPP bagged 161 votes and three votes were declared invalid.

Rauf Siddiqui of MQM was the first to cast his vote. Ms Ruqaya Soomro and Ms Rasheeda Panhwar both of PPP did not cast their votes because Ms Ruqaya was seriously ill and Ms Rasheeda was absent due to the demise of her mother. PML (Likeminded) President Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim, who is in self exile in Dubai, also did not cast his vote.

Meanwhile, Malik Najamul Hasan, Hadayat Ullah, Saleh Shah and Hilalur Rehman were elected as members of the Senate on Friday out of 11 contesting candidates on the four seats of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), according to unofficial and unannounced results of Senate elections.

Malik Najamul Hasan, Hadayat Ullah and Saleh Shah got five votes in their favour from nine MNAs of Fata while Hilalur Rehman got elected on a draw out of the total four candidates.

Out of the total 11 members (voters) of the National Assembly of Fata, nine members cast their votes while two MNAs Akhtun Zada Chatan and Abdul Malik Wazir did not turn up at the polling station. According to sources, both were present in the building of Parliament House but did not cast their vote.

Interestingly, five candidates Hamid Ullah Jan Afridi, Hilalur Rehman, Dr Aurengzeb, Abdul Malik Qadri and Abdul Waheed got four votes each. Hilalur Rehman was declared as the winning candidate through a draw among the four candidates.

Keeping in view the rules of Senate elections, each voter (Fata MNA) had to give four priorities in the list of candidates for four Fata seats and if candidate at the number one priority gets more than four votes, the extra votes would automatically transfer to the candidate at priority number 2.

The polling for elections of Fata senators was held in the Committee Room No 2 of the Parliament House and Election Commission Additional Secretary Akhtar Hussain Sabir performed as returning officer. The polling started at 9am and ended at 4pm.

In Balochistan also the PPP took lead by wining 4 seats while JUI-F won 3 seats and PML-Q and Balochistan National Party (Awami) won two seats each, according to unofficial results.

Polling started at 9am and continued till 4pm in Balochistan Assembly’s building under Balochistan Election Commissioner Abdul Jabbar Jamali who acted as the presiding officer.

Over 63 members of Balochistan Assembly out of total 65 cast their votes while two MPAs Nawabzada Bakhtiar Domki and member of opposition leader Sardar Yar Muhammad Rind did not cast their votes.

Seven out of total 18 candidates contesting for general seats who were declared successful were Nawabzada Saifullah Magsi of PPP, Sardar Fateh Muhammad Hassni of PPP, Yousuf Baloch of PPP, Hafiz Hamdullah Saboor of JUI-F, Mir Israr Zehri BNP-A, Daud Khan of ANP and Saeedul Hassan Mandokhail of PML-Q.

PML-Q candidate Rubina Irfan and Naseema Ehsan of BNP-A won the seats reserved for women. Two seats of technocrats were clinched by the PPP contestant Rozi Khan Kakar and Mufti Abdul Sattar of JUI-F. Haiman Das won minority seat on ticket of JUI-F.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, joint candidates of PPP and ANP won elections on five general, two technocrat, two women and one minority seats. The JUI-F and PML-N candidates Talha Mehmud and Muhammad Nisar Khan from Malakand Agency were also declared successful.

The ANP’s Azam Khan Hoti obtained 16 votes, Shahi Syed 17, Baz Mohammad Khan 17 and PPP’s Ahmad Hasan Khan 18, Saifullah Bangish 14, JUI-F’s Talha Mehmud 23 and PML-N’s Nisar Muhammad secured 12 votes.

The ANP and PPP candidates on technocrat seats, Ilyas Bilour and  Farhatullah Baber obtained 59 and 35 respectively while ANP’s Zahida Khan and PPP’s Robina Khalid grabbed 60 and 39 votes on women seats. The JUI-F’s candidate Naeema Kishwar and PML-Q candidate achieved 12 and 10 votes. ANP candidate on minority seat, Amarjeet Malothra won by defeating her rival of the opposition Gulzari Lal.