ISLAMABAD - Lawmakers belonging to the National Assembly, four provincial assemblies and Federally-Administered Tribal Areas will elect 52 senators of the 104-member Senate today.

Rumours abound that large amounts of money are being used by some political parties and wealthy independent candidates to lure voting lawmakers.

Fielding of more candidates than their relative strength by some political parties has lend credence to allegations of horse-trading.

The strength of any political party in the respective provincial assembly as well as the National Assembly determines its number of seats in the Upper House of the Parliament.

For instance, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has awarded three tickets in the KP, two on general seats and one on women seat, despite the fact that the party does not have enough presence in KP assembly to win even a single seat from there.

The PPP has only six seats in the KP, and 17 votes of provincial lawmakers will be required to win a single general seat from there.

The PPP has awarded ticket to an Islamabad-based billionaire Faisal Sakhi Butt on a general seat from the KP as well.

This all started with the recent change of chief executive of Balochistan in an unceremonious way when the majority party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), was made a minority party in the province through horse-trading.

The PML-N dissidents and a handful of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) lawmakers formed their own group in Balochistan Assembly only to remove the PML-N nominated Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Khan Zehri.

Resultantly, Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo of the PML-Q took the oath as new CM though the party had only five seats in the provincial assembly.

If some politicians from at least two provinces, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan, and the Fata are to be believed; the provincial lawmakers are getting offers starting from Rs30 million by some political parties and the independent members to give them votes.

And if it is hard for the lawmakers to give them votes in the first preference, they are being given offers to give votes in the second and the third preferences.

All this has created unrest among the political parties and they have also fielded wealthy candidates, especially Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in the KP, to counter the move.

The PTI has given tickets to some known businessmen of the province.

Kamran Murtaza, Pakistan Bar Council vice-chairman, who is also contesting Senate election from Balochistan on a JUI-F ticket said that reports of use of large amount of money were rife in the province.

“I am a great supporter of direct election of the Senate to avoid such situation,” he said.

Candidates in the run

As many as 133 candidates are in the run from the four provinces – Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), and the Fata.

As many as 20 candidates are in the contest from Punjab, 33 from Sindh, 26 from KP, 25 from Balochistan, five from ICT and 24 from Fata.

The PPP has fielded a total 20 candidates, Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) 14, PTI 13 and Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) four, while 64 independent candidates are also contesting, besides some candidates from smaller parties.

The 64 independents also include 22 candidates of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) who have been declared independent after a judgement of the Supreme Court that disqualified former prime minister Nawaz Sharif as party president.

Expected post-election

party position

Some up-sets are expected in this election, especially from Balochistan where the PML-N is likely to lose two or three seats due to horse-trading.

However, the PML-N would become the single-largest party in the Senate after March 3 election.

The PML-N technically is out of the Senate race because of the judgement of the apex court but its candidates who are contesting elections as independents would join the party after taking oath and the PML-N would have 30 plus seats in the house.

The PPP would be the second largest party in the house whose 18 senators are going to retire on March 11. Keeping in view its strength in the provincial assemblies, the PPP would secure around 17 plus seats in the election.

It is likely that the PTI would clinch 12 seats in the house, followed by the MQM that would secure secure seven or eight seats.

The Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) as well as the National Party would clinch six seats each.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) would have four seats and Awami National Party (ANP), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) as well as the Balochistan National Party (Mengal) would get two seats each.

The PML-Q, the PML-F and the Balochistan National Party (Awami) would disappear from the house for the next three years.



Composition of senate

The Senate comprises 104 members, with 23 members from each province – including 14 members elected on general seats, four each on technocrat and women seats and one non-Muslim member. The upper house has eight members from Fata and four from ICT – two on general seats and one each on technocrat and women seats.

Each senator serves a term of six years and half of the lawmakers retire after every three years following completion of their six-year tenure.



Polling process

The Senate election is held through secret voting on a basis of single transferable vote through “preference voting”.

All four provincial assemblies are electoral college for the four respective assemblies; Fata MNAs will elect Fata senators, while members of Nation Assembly will elect senators from Islamabad.




Political Parties Position in provincial assemblies

Punjab Assembly has 371 seats and its existing strength is 367.

Under the formula of Senate election, 53 votes of provincial lawmakers would be required to win a single general seat from Punjab Assembly.

For technocrat and women seats, those candidates would be declared winner who would get maximum number of votes.

The PML-N has 310 seats in the province, PTI 30, PPP and the PML-Q have eight seats each, while five are independents.

Sindh Assembly has 168 seats and its existing strength is 167. 24 votes would be required to win a single general seat from there.

PPP has 95 seats in Sindh, MQM 50, PML-F nine, PML-N seven and PTI four.

KP Assembly has 124 seats and its existing members are 123. As many as 18 votes would be required to win a general seat from here.

PTI has 61 members in KP, PML-N and JUI-F 16 each, Quami Watan Party 10, Jamaat-e-Islami seven, PPP six and Awami National Party (ANP) has five lawmakers.

Balochistan Assembly has 65 seats and nine votes would be required to win a single general seat.

The PML-N has 21 lawmakers here but most of them have become dissidents. PKMAP has 11 lawmakers, JUI-F eight, while PML-Q has five seats.



Senate polls today amid horse-trading allegations


Imran Mukhtar