The ruling party of Prime Minister Imran Khan, PTI, and his allies will seek to wrest control of the Senate from opposition today looking for the majority, the indirect senate elections to 37 seats in the 104-member upper house of the country’s parliament are underway.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) won the 2018 general election. Khan’s coalition does not have a majority in the Senate. PTI needed to pass key legislation – including legal reforms sought by global institutions. These included the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and money laundering watchdog the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
“They have difficulty in legislating, and many laws are stuck,” Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, head of the independent research organization PILDAT, told Reuters.
PM’s PTI, which translates into Pakistan Movement for Justice, has 12 seats in the Senate. Meanwhile, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) have 12 and 25 seats each.
PTI is looking to go up to 25 seats
PTI is looking to go up to 25 seats after the elections. It along with other coalition parties and independents has a slender majority in the Senate.
The electoral college for the Senate elections is held every three years on half of the chamber’s strength. It comprises Pakistan’s four provincial assemblies and the lower house of parliament.
With opposition parties controlling the Senate, the government has had to pass interim legislation through Presidential Ordinances. Moreover, they expire in 120 days.
The government’s legislators and allies in the lower house of parliament will vote on making Khan’s finance minister, Abdul Hafiz Sheikh, a senator. The result could show how much confidence there is in the administration.
“It could determine who has a majority in parliament… it will be an embarrassment for the government, and could even lead to seeking a fresh vote of confidence,” Mehboob said.
The lead-up to the potentially pivotal election has been marked by the government and opposition charging each other with seeking votes through unfair means.
78 candidates are vying for the seats from Sindh, K-P, Balochistan & Islamabad
Polling on 37 vacant seats of the Senate is in progress at the parliament house and three provincial assemblies. It started at 9am will continue till 5 pm.
In the capital, the National Assembly hall is the polling station. Shafiq Arain was the first one to cast the vote followed by Faisal Vawda.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has also cast his vote. During his visit to the Assembly hall also interacted with the MNAs of PTI and allied parties.
PTI’s Hafeez Sheikh and PPP’s Yousaf Raza Gilani are vying for the general seat. Meanwhile, for the women seat, Fauzia Arshad of PTI and Farzana Kausar of PML-N are in the field.
Meanwhile, 11 senators will be elected from Sindh and 12 each from Balochistan and K-P.
Opposition leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif has also cast his vote for the Senate election.
Hours earlier, the contest became even more controversial with the emergence of a video of Gilani’s son, Ali Haider, explaining to lawmakers how to cancel their votes. Speaking to media in Islamabad, Ali Haider accepted that he was in the leaked video, but denied he was engaging in a deal to buy votes for his father.
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