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- Politicians should shift from pressure to persuasion mode
With PPP withholding its reservations on the provisional Census Report, the Senate has finally passed the Delimitation of Constituencies Bill. This removes the only hurdle which could have blocked timely elections. The rumour mills are left with little grist after the COAS made it clear that the army stood by democracy and he considered presidential system unsuitable for the country. Further that the army will carry out decisions taken by the Parliament. Thus the national government is no more than a pipe dream like the much talked about government of technocrats.
The delimitation of constituencies is reportedly already being conducted by the Election Commission (EC) on the presumption that the bill cleared by the National Assembly was finally going to be approved by the Senate. Consequently the EC will have smooth sailing now. One expects the present EC to put up a better performance than was witnessed in 2013 elections. It should be wiser after receiving inputs from the electoral reforms committee. A judicial Commission which probed complaints about 2013 elections also pointed out a number of weaknesses and shortcomings in the electoral system. The complaints regarding candidates spending huge mounts on campaigns, thus queering the pitch for the middle class contestants, need to be redressed in the upcoming polls. Unless the EC takes a firm stand on lowering election expenses the perception that legislative bodies have turned into millionaires’ clubs would continue to persist taking away much of the sheen from democracy.
It is presumed that the EC would be ready to hold the elections by the end of July or early August. It is time political parties put an end to protest marches and sit-ins and instead concentrate on preparing well thought out, realistic and forward looking election manifestos. Attempts should be made by the mainstream parties to reach a consensus on long gestation socio-economic policies and outstanding issues like population control so that these continue to be implemented irrespective of which one of them is in power.
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The triennial Senate Electionsof Pakistan were held on 3 March 2018 to replace 52 retiring senators - half of the Senate's strength - with the winning candidates serving six-year terms. Overall, Pakistan Muslim League (N) came out as the largest party, followed by the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. The results of these elections were steeped in controversy due to rampant allegations of horse trading and vote-buying, which lead to the Prime Minister and the main opposition leader Imran Khan calling for reforms. Prior to this election, PML (N) candidates were declared as independents by the Election Commission of Pakistan owing to a Supreme Court judgment.
Elections for the chairmanship and deputy chairmanship of the senate were held on 12 March 2018. Both posts were won by joint opposition's candidates with Sadiq Sanjrani and Saleem Mandviwalla being elected chairman and deputy chairman, respectively.
The Senate of Pakistan is the upper house of the Parliament of Pakistan. It comprises of 104 senators with each senator serving a 6-year term. The elections are conducted triennially for half the seats in the senate. This staggered nature of the terms means that at any given time senators from two different elections are serving in the Senate.
The 2018 elections were conducted on 3 March 2018 to replace the senators elected during the 2012 elections. The electoral process is based on an indirectsingle transferable vote. This is in contrast to the methodology of directfirst-past-the-post voting used in all other parliamentary elections in the country. Thus, effectively, the senators in Pakistan are voted for by serving members of the country's National and Provincial Assemblies and not the public. This reduction in electorate, the transferable nature of the vote, and secrecy of the ballot have resulted in the senate elections in the country being almost always marred by allegations of vote trading.
In terms of seats, there is fixed representation of each of the country's administrative unit in the senate, apart from the disputed territories of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir. There are 23 seats from each province, 8 from Federally Administered Tribal Areas, and 4 from the capital region of Islamabad. In a given election, half of these seats are contested for. Due to the odd nature of the number of seats from the provinces, each election cycle sees two provinces elect all 12 representatives, while the remaining two elect 11.
This year's elections took place in an environment of uncertainty as one of the electing houses, the Balochistan Assembly, saw an in-house change, the lower house's speaker, Ayaz Sadiq, voiced concerns that 'hidden elements' might not let the current government complete its term, and the candidacy of PML-N candidates was stripped mere days before the election. Further still, in the lead up to the elections, the ruling PML-N was of the opinion that the provincial assemblies in which it is not in power, namely, Balochistan, Sindh, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, might be prematurely dissolved to postpone the senate elections until after the general elections.
Candidacy of PML-N Nominees
On 28 July 2017, the Supreme Court of PakistandisqualifiedPrime MinisterNawaz Sharif from holding public office. Following this, the Elections Act 2017 was passed, which allowed Sharif to serve as party head despite being disqualified. However, in a later judgement passed by the Supreme Court on 21 February 2018, Sharif was disqualified from holding office as party president. In this judgement, all decisions taken by Sharif during his tenure as party president were declared null and void, including Senate tickets which he had signed himself. To prevent delay in Senate elections, the Election Commission of Pakistan declared all PML(N) candidates as Independents.
Voting is conducted on the basis of single transferable vote where a voter prioritizes their vote among a list of candidates. First priority votes are given the highest weightage and carry 100 points. Election Commission of Pakistan establishes the criteria for the minimum number of points required to attain a senate seat. During the first count, when a candidate breaches that criteria, they are declared a winner for the seat. Any surplus points they have are divided among other preferences in successive iteration(s). Similarly, a candidate who falls well short of this criteria during the first count has their points transferred among other preferences in subsequent count(s). This whole exercise is repeated iteratively until all vacant seats are filled.
It is pertinent to mention that the points system is only used for senators to be elected from general, women, and technocrat seats in provincial assemblies. For senators who are elected from the National Assembly or are running for a minority/non-Muslim seat in the provinces, only a vote count is used.
In a typical election, a total of 52 seats are contested. Of which 33 are general seats (7 from each province, 4 from FATA, and 1 from Islamabad), 9 are technocrat seats (2 from each province, and 1 from Islamabad), 8 are women seats (2 apiece from each province), and 2 are minority seats (1 each from 2 provinces).
The following table outlines the voting requirements in the current senate elections. The Minimum Votes Required column only considers first priority votes:
†Only members from FATA are eligible to vote.
‡Minority Seats are filled for only 2 provinces in a given election. This way the elections for these seats alternate between Punjab/Sindh and Balochistan/KPK.
A total of 131 candidates were in the run for the 52 seats. 33 from Sindh, 26 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 24 from FATA, 23 from Balochistan, 20 from Punjab, and 5 from Islamabad.
Candidates by Administrative Unit
|Kamil Ali Agha||PML-Q|
|Hafiz Abdul Kareem||PML-N|
|Ali Shah Jamot||PPP|
|Moula Bux Chandio||PPP|
|Anis Ahmed Khan||PSP|
|Abdul Kadir Khanzada||MQM|
|Ali Raza Abidi||MQM|
|Anwar Lal Deen||PPP|
|Gul Naseeb Khan||JUI-F|
|Pir Sabir Shah||PML-N|
|Ali Afzal Jadoon||PML-N|
|Faisal Sakhi Butt||PPP|
|Abdul Latif Yousafzai||PTI|
|Mehr Taj Roghani||PTI|
|Anisa Zeb Tahirkheli||QWP|
|Amir Afzal Khan||PML-N|
|Abdul Manaf Tareen||PML-N|
|Ghazi Ghazan Jamal||Independent|
|Afzal Din Khan||Independent|
|Nizam Uddin Khan||Independent|
Overall, PML (N) backed Independents won the most seats, securing 15 of the 52 seats up for election. 11 of these seats were from Punjab, 2 of them from Islamabad and 2 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) closely trailed behind, securing 12 of the 52 seats. Of these, 10 were won in Sindh and 2 were won in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) secured 6 seats of which 5 came from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and one from Punjab.
The strong performance of the PPP raised many eyebrows and led to allegations of 'horse trading' by the party. Noting that MQM, despite having 52 MPAs in the Sindh Assembly, only managed to secure one senator, whilst the PPP managed to secure two senators - including one on the women's seat - from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with only 7 MPAs.
Another surprise win was by Chaudhry Sarwar of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf from a general seat in Punjab who gained 44 first priority and 2 second priority votes - the most in the assembly this election. This was a surprise because the result came about despite the PTI-PML (Q) alliance only having 38 votes. This indicated that Sarwar had also been voted for by members of Pakistan Muslim League (N) and Pakistan Peoples Party.
Finally, on a minority seat from Sindh, Krishna Kohli of the PPP became the first Dalit to be elected to the Senate of Pakistan.
Results by Administrative Units
NOTE: All PML-N candidates officially ran as Independents
|General||Asif Kirmani |
|Shaheen Butt |
|Haroon Khan |
|Musadik Malik |
|Rana Maqbool |
|Mehmoodul Hassan |
|Chaudhry Sarwar |
|Technocrat||Ishaq Dar (PML-N)||Hafiz Abdul Karim (PML-N)|
|Women||Saadia Abbasi (PML-N)||Nuzhat Sadiq (PML-N)|
|Minority||Kamran Micheal (PML-N)|
|General||Raza Rabbani |
|Bux Chandio |
|Ali Shah Jamote |
|Mustafa Nawaz Khokar |
|Sikandar Menghro |
|Farogh Naseem |
|Muzaffar Hussain |
|Technocrat||Rukhsana Zubairi (PPP)||Sikander Mandhro (PPP)|
|Women||Qurultain Marri (PPP)||Krishna Kohli (PPP)|
|Minority||Anwar Laal Dean (PPP)|
|General||Faisal Javed |
|Muhammad Ayub |
|Fida Muhammad |
|Pir Sabir Shah |
|Bahramand Tangi |
|Talha Mahmood |
|Mushtaq Ahmed |
|Technocrat||Azam Swati (PTI)||Dilawar Khan (PML-N)|
|Women||Meher Tag Roghani (PTI)||Robina Khalid (PPP)|
|General||Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar (Independent)||Ahmed Khan |
|Kuda Babar |
|Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani |
|Muhammad Shafiq Tareen |
|Faiz Muhammad |
|Muhammad Akram |
|Technocrat||Naseebullah Bazai (Independent)||Tahir Bizenjo (NP)|
|Women||Sana Jamali (Independent)||Abida Umar (PkMAP)|
Federally Administered Units
NOTE: FATA only has general seats, while Islamabad has 1 general and 1 technocrat seat in the Senate.
|General||Shammim Afridi |
|Mirza Muhammad Afridi |
|Hidayat Ullah |
|Hillal ur Rehman |
|General||Asad Junejo |
|Technocrat||Mushahid Hussain |
Election of Chairman and Deputy Chairman
After the winning candidates have been notified by the Election Commission, there is a one week delay until they take oath. During that time, retiring senators make their farewell speeches and any objections on the successful candidates is handled. After this time has lapsed, the reconstituted senate elects their Chairman and Deputy Chairman by a simple majority via a secret ballot.
Candidates and Results
Two candidates apiece, from the opposition and treasury benches, contested the elections on 12 March 2018. Joint opposition's candidates, Sadiq Sanjrani and Saleem Mandviwalla, won the elections for their respective seats.
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