All set for Senate elections today

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135 candidates vying for 52 seats

Sophia Siddiqui

Islamabad

Senate elections to fill five two vacant seats will be held today (Saturday) with one hundred and thirty five candidates in the run from the federal capital, Fata and the four provinces.
The Election Commission of Pakistan on Friday issued code of conduct for the Senate elections . Under the directives issued to the lawmakers, the CoC bound them to bring the Secretariat Card along with them on the poling day and ensure secrecy of ballot paper and the vote.
Failing to comply with it, the MP may land in jail for up to two years. Each provincial assembly will elect 7 senators on General seats, 2 on Technocrat seats and 2 on Women seats, for a total of 11 seats. Two provinces i.e. Sindh and Punjab will additionally also choose a Minority member each. Additionally, Fata MNAs will elect four senators, all on General seats, while the National Assembly will elect two members from Islamabad (one to a General seat and one to either a Woman or Technocrat/Ulema seat).
Among the candidates, 20 are from the PPP, 14 from the MQM, 13 from PTI and four from Pak Sarzameen Party. In addition to this, 65 candidates will be contesting as ‘independents’, which includes the 23 candidates nominated by PML-N who cannot contest polls on their party ticket anymore.
Five candidates are contesting for two seats from the Federal Capital. Twenty candidates are contesting the polls from Punjab. Of these, 10 will contest for General seats, three for Women’s seats, five for Technocrats’ seats, and two for a seat reserved for minorities.
A total of 33 candidates will contest the Senate polls from Sindh, of which 18 will contest for General seats, six each for seats reserved for Technocrats and Women, and three for a seat reserved for minorities.
From Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 27 candidates will contest the polls, of which 14 will contest for General seats, while five and eight candidates will contest the seats reserved for Technocrats and Women, respectively. The KP seat for minorities is currently filled.
Twenty-five candidates are contesting the polls from Balochistan, of which 15 will contest for General seats, six for Women seats, and four will contest for seats reserved for Technocrats. The Balochistan seat for minorities is currently filled. Twenty four candidates are vying for the four FATA seats.
Rangers or FC personnel will also be deputed outside the polling stations.
52 Senators are retiring on March 11.
Prominent among those who are retiring are Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Leader of the Opposition Aitzaz Ahsan, Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Farhatullah Babar, Azam Swati, Kamran Michael, Shahi Syed, Kamil Ali Agha, Talha Mehmood, Tahir Hussain Mashhadi, Nasreen Jalil and Ilyas Bilour.
Eighteen of the 52 senators belong to the Pakistan People Party Parliamentarians (PPP-P), nine to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), five are from the Awami National Party (ANP), four each belong to Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), three to Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), two to Balochistan National Party-A (BNP-A), and one each to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F). Five independents are also set to complete their tenure, according to the Senate website.
The senators from Punjab who are retiring are: M. Hamza (PML-N), Kamil Ali Agha (PML-Q), Muhammad Mohsin Khan Leghari independent), Muhammad Zafarullah Khan Dhandla (PML-N), Saud Majeed (PML-N) in place of Malik Rafique Rajwana, Sardar Zulfikar Khosa (PML-N), Asif Saeed Kirmani (PML-N) in place of Dr Babar Awan, Aitzaz Ahsan (PPP-P), Mohammad Ishaq Dar (PML-N), Khalida Parveen (PPP-P), Nuzhat Sadiq (PML-N) and Kamran Micheal (PML-N).
Meanwhile, former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar assured Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Friday that he will support the Pakistan Muslim League-N in the Senate polls on Saturday.
The premier met with former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar while both were in Parliament House. During the brief meeting between the two senior PML-N leaders, Abbasi asked Nisar to attend the voting session for Senate polls. Nisar, along with an assurance of support for the PML-N, agreed to attend the session. However, he did not attend the parliamentary party session held earlier under the chair of prime minister.
Nisar came to the Parliament House and spent some time in the chambers of Speaker National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq.
Meanwhile, some of the ruling party parliamentarians during the meeting on Friday complained that they were receiving phone calls from unknown numbers.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi expressed dismay and vowed to cope with the situation with iron hands if such happening occurred in future.
During the parliamentary party meeting, the Ramesh Kumar revealed that some of the parliamentarians were receiving calls from unknown numbers and they are being directed for particular actions.
“The same kind of calls were also received during the party head election and it can happen during upcoming Senate election,” Kumar said. The Prime Minster Abbasi expressed anger over the calls and directed the MPs if they receive such kind of calls again they should apprise him as he had talked with high ups over the issue.
“Now such kinds of unknown calls have no place in Pakistan’s politics and it will not be tolerated in future as well,” PM said.
The meeting finalized strategy for the Senate election going to be held today.

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