ISLAMABAD -  A good number of independent candidates for upcoming Senate elections has caused panic among political parties having a stake in these polls and the stakeholders are out to devise a strategy to check the much-expected horse-trading.

Besides the independents, the political parties not having the requisite number of parliamentarians in provincial legislatures have also jumped into the fray with a hope to get into an alliance with other smaller parties and groups to clinch a seat, which, otherwise, would not be possible for them to handle.

After a political fiasco in Balochistan, where the PML-N coalition government was toppled with an ease, it had also raised eyebrows because the breach in the party was from within the PML-N and without defection, the change in government could not have materialized.

Similarly, the situation in Sindh had also dramatically changed ahead of these elections and political analysts saw a loss of a couple of MQM seats which could go to any party but many believed that the PPP would cash in on this situation and could manage it by getting independents elected against these seats.

As no party is ready to take the blame for horse-trading or stealing of other’s mandate, they would prefer to get their candidates elected as independents and later on bring them into their fold.

Sources in the Parliament confirmed to The Nation that despite sharp differences with each other the major stakeholders were engaged in back-channel negotiations to check the chances of horse-trading and stealing of the stakeholders’ mandate by independents by using the substantial money.

Previously too, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz had a tacit understanding in the Senate elections from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and frustrated the designs of those planning to steal the mandate of others.

From Balochistan, a maximum number of independents would likely win the elections while the chances of minor upsets from the rest of the provinces would also likely to happen on general seats.

The Election Commission of Pakistan would be hearing appeals against the acceptance and rejection of nomination papers today (February 17) while the final list of the candidates would be displayed on February 18. The candidates could withdraw their papers by February 19 but usually, the candidates would remain in run till the end and as the electoral college for these elections was small so the candidates would retire from elections in favour of someone till the polling day scheduled for March 3.

Till the last date for filing of nomination papers, over 140 candidates have filed papers against 52 seats from four provinces and two seats from the federal capital.

The elections for 52 seats from the four provinces, the federal capital and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas are to be held on March 3. A total of 52 senators in 104-House will retire on March 11 after completion of their six-year term.

According to the ECP, 34 nomination forms have been submitted from Punjab, of which 21 were for general seats, five for reserved seats for women, five for technocrat seats, and three for reserved seats for minorities.

Some 47 nomination forms have been submitted from Sindh — 23 of them for general seats, 11 for reserved seats for technocrats, nine for reserved seats for women and four for reserved seats for minorities.

In Balochistan, 28 nomination forms have been submitted, 15 of them for general seats, seven for reserved seats for technocrats and six for women-specific seats.

In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 34 nomination forms have been submitted, 20 of them for general seats, six for reserved seats for technocrats and eight for reserved seats for women.