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Senate elections: Voting comes to end, counting begins

ISLAMABAD: Polling for 37 seats of the Senate has come to an end and counting has begun.

The voting process began at 9am as lawmakers started arriving at the Parliament House and Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan Assemblies to cast their votes. Shafiq Arain of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was the first lawmaker who cast his vote in the Senate elections followed by PTI’s Faisal Vawda.

Moreover, PTI’s Omar Ayub and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) senior vice president Shahid Khaqan Abbasi have also cast their votes.

In Balochistan Assembly, Zmarak Khan Achakzai was the first legislator who has cast the vote for Senate elections followed by Nawabzada Mir Tariq Magsi.

Read: PTI files Gilani’s disqualification plea for Senate seat with ECP

Shabbir Bijarani cast the first vote in Sindh Assembly during the Upper House polls.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has also cast his vote after arriving in the National Assembly.

Upon his arrival in the NA, the government lawmakers started raising slogan ‘Long Live Imran Khan’, however, the election commission officials immediately stopped them. The officials warned the legislators from strict action if the action was repeated in the parliament.

More than 200 lawmakers have so far cast their votes in the National Assembly.

Currently, the National Assembly has 342 seats for lawmakers from across the country. The ruling PTI holds 157 seats, PML-N 83, PPP 55, 15 MMA, MQM-P 7, BAP 5, PML-Q 4, BNP 4, GDA 3, AML 1, ANP 1, JWP 1, and four are independent members.

Earlier, Returning Officer (RO) issued directives to the lawmakers to cast vote for the candidates using digits on the ballot papers. The ballot paper will be considered as rejected one if a lawmaker writes in double digits.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) barred all including voters, candidates and polling agents to carry mobile phones or camera in the Parliament House, whereas, the NA lawmakers will have to show the card issued from the assembly for getting ballot papers.

White-coloured ballot papers will be used to cast vote for candidates on the general seat and purple-coloured ballot papers will be for reserved seats for women.

Read: PTI lawmaker claims PPP ‘offered him Rs80 million’ to buy his vote

According to the instruction letter issued by the ECP, the vote will be rejected if an identification mark of the voter appears on the ballot paper.

The voting process has begun at the Parliament House Islamabad and the provincial assemblies of Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) at 09:00 am and will continue till 5:00 pm without any break.

There will be no polling in Punjab as all the candidates for three categories — seven general and two seats each reserved for women and technocrats — were elected unopposed last week.

There are a total of 72 candidates contesting the 2021 Senate polls from the federal capital and the three provinces.

Read: Bilawal Bhutto says PDM has succeeded in its struggle

Two senators will be elected from the federal capital, eleven from Sindh 12 from Balochistan and 12 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

In the federal capital, Abdul Hafeez Sheikh of PTI and Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) are vying for the general seat whilst for the women seat, Fauzia Arshad of PTI and Farzana Kausar of PML (N) are in the field.

Around 25 candidates are in the field for twelve seats of Senate from KP, 26 from Balochistan and 17 from Sindh province.

There will be a one-to-one contest between Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh and former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani for a general seat and PTI’s Fauzia Arshad and PML-N’s Farzana Kausar for a women’s seat.

 

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