ISLAMABAD/PEshawar - Marked by allegations of wide scale horse-trading, polling for Senate seats concluded on Thursday in four provincial assemblies and National Assembly with PPP and PML-N set to bring equal number of senators, as eyes are set on the four vacant seats of Fata considered to be a key in determining the slot of Senate chairman.

According to unofficial results, PML-N grabbed the entire 11 Senate seats from Punjab, three from Balochistan and two each from Islamabad and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa thus jacking the total strength of its members in Senate up to 28. PPP too has 28 Senators in hand. However, PPP can have an edge in the final analysis due to its alliance with other parties.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) made history by getting representation in the Upper House of the Parliament for the first time after winning five seats of the Senate from the province. Of the rest of total 12 seats - seven general, two each for technocrats and women and one for minorities- PML-N secured two seats and PPP, JUI-F, JI, AJI and ANP pocketed one seat each.

In Sindh, PPP managed to win seven seats followed by MQM that reclaimed four senators from the province under an understanding reached between the two political parties. In Balochistan, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) and National Party (NP) clinched three seats each while BNP-Mengal, JUI-F and an independent candidate grabbed one seat each in the province.

Election on four Fata seats was postponed for indefinite period by ECP after the annoyed Fata MNAs challenged a Presidential notification issued in a court. The presidential order barred Fata lawmakers from casting four votes for a candidate like in the past, restricting an MNA to cast only one vote for a single candidate for Senate.

Opposition parties PPP and PTI saw in the ordinance mal-intent of the ruling PML-N as the group of six MNAs out of the total five were going to elect their own candidates. However, political observers believe PML-N was poised to outnumber PPP in Senate by expecting two more seats from Fata as election on Fata seats according to ECP officials, would be conducted before March 12.

With PPP and PML-N in a race to emerge as the majority party in Senate and grab the slot of chairman, political observers believe that smaller parties in the upper house would have decisive role in the election for the prized slots of chairman and deputy chairman.

They believe that in case election for chairman is held inside the house on basis of simple majority, PPP together with its allies, PML-Q, MQM and ANP will form 44-member strength, still bigger than PML-N that will accumulate 37 members supported by PkMAP, JUI-F, NP and others except PTI.

But PML-N lawmakers said that the ruling party can reach a mutual understanding with PPP in election of chairman and deputy chairman without indulging in race for the slots in order to keep the two houses of parliament in harmony.

“A ruling party can do wonders if it wants to do. But I will not suggest PML-N to make attempt for the slot of Senate chairman. Even if we secure a seat in KP, PML-N still would be short of one vote to match PPP’s 26-member strength,” a PML-N lawmaker told The Nation on Thursday before KP’s election results came. He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is currently on a tour to Saudi Arabia, would ponder over PML-N’s strategy about the top Senate slots after he returns to country.

But a PPP lawmaker said that Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari had already garnered support of PML-Q, ANP, MQM and JUI-F in election of Chairman of the upper house in case PPP fails to emerge as single majority party in the house.

“It should not be something worrying for PML-N if PPP reclaims slot of Senate chairman. Hopefully we will take it back,” he said, adding that the presidential order about election on Fata seats has also exposed the intentions of PML-N for eying majority in the Senate.

KP results could not be announced until late night where polling time was extended by four hours until 8pm after opposition parties accused PTI of using pressure tactics on its MPAs and violating the sanctity of secret balloting.

PTI however clinched 5 seats, according to unofficial results. Being a coalition partner in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), which had lost representation in the Senate in 2012 after it boycotted the 2008 general elections, too, made a comeback, after its Ameer Sirajul Haq, who is also member of provincial assembly, won a general seat.

On seven general seats, the PTI’s Mohsin Aziz, Shibli Faraz, JUI-F’s Maulana Attaur Rehman, JI’s ameer Sirajul Haq, Lt-Gen (r) Salahuddin Tirmazi of PML-N and Liaquat Khan Tarakai of Awami Jamhori Itehad (AJI) succeeded in the contest by defeating their rivals. Liaqat Tarakai is the father of senior provincial minister Shahram Tarakai. Similarly, Shibli Faraz is the son of noted poet, the late Ahmad Faraz.

On two seats reserved for technocrats, PTI’s Nauman Wazir and PML-N’s Javid Abbassi won the race. Likewise, Sameena Abid of PTI and ANP’s former provincial minister Sitara Ayaz succeeded in the run on two seats for women by obtaining 66 and 36 votes respectively. The PTI minority candidate Brig (r) John Kenneth Williams won the seat by getting 70 votes against his rival James Iqbal of JUI-F, who secured 46 votes and the ANP outgoing Senator Amer Jeet got just 6 votes.

In the house of 124 lawmakers, the ruling alliance has 71 members, of them the PTI has 57 lawmakers, the JI eight, the AJI five and one independent was also backing the government. The PTI disgruntled legislature Javid Naseem, did not cast his vote. The five opposition parties consisting of ANP, PML-N, JUI-F, PPP and QWP have 5, 16,17,5 and 10 legislatures respectively, which make its strength 36 in the house.

The winners from Punjab were: Pervaiz Rashid, Ghous Khan Niazi, Nehal Hashmi, Saleem Zia, Ayesha Raza Farooq, Najma Hamid, Raja Zafarul Haq, Prof Sajid Mir, Ch Tanveer Khan, Mushaidullah Khan, Lt-Gen Abdul Qayyum (all belonged to PML-N).

From Sindh: Sassui Palijo, Farooq Naek, Gyan Chand, Rehman Malik, Saleem Mandviwala, Islamuddin Sheikh, Abdul Latif Ansari (all from PPP-P). Mian Muhammad Ateeq Sheikh, Khushbakht Shujaat, Barrister M Ali Khan Saif, Nighat Mirza (all from MQM).

From Balochistan: Mir Naimatullah Zehri (PML-N), Shahbaz Durrani (PML-N), Kalsoom Parveen (PML-N), Hasil Khan Bizenjo (NP), Mir Kabir (NP), Dr Ashok Kumar (NP), Muhammad Yousaf Badini (IND), Jahanzeb Jamali Dini (BNP-M), Muhammad Usman (PkMAP), Gul Bushara (PkMAP), Sardar Azam Khan (PKMAP), Moulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri (JUI-F).

From Islamabad: Iqbal Zafar Jhagra (PML-N), Raheela Magsi (PML-N).