Polling in all four provincial assemblies and the parliament has been started.
ISLAMABAD (City News) – Polling for Senate elections 2018 on Saturday is underway to elect 52 lawmakers out of 135 candidates who have filed nomination papers.
Polling in all four provincial assemblies and the parliament started at 09:00pm and is scheduled to continue until 04:00pm without a halt.
Candidates of ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) are to contest the polls as independent candidates after top court ruled earlier this year that all tickets issued to candidates for Senate elections by disqualified Nawaz Sharif were annulled.
Rangers and personnel of Frontier Corps (FC) have been deployed outside all four provincial assemblies and the parliament to maintain security during voting and election of fresh senators for a term of six years.
Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has given special powers equivalent of a magistrate to counter any untoward situation.
Code of conduct
According to the code, the members of national and provincial assemblies are required to bring their secretariat cards along in order to cast votes. In addition, mobile phones will not be allowed near polling station. Also, vote is to be cast secretly.
Regarding the ballot papers, according to the code of conduct, the use of fake ballot paper will result in legal consequences. The Returning Officers, who have been given the powers of magistrates, will have the power to take immediate action if anyone is found taking ballot paper out of the station or handing the same over to an unauthorized individual. The RO can also cancel the ballot paper altogether.
Ten candidates from Punjab province will contest for seven seats in the Senate. Asif Kimani, Shaheen Khalid Butt, Zubair Gul, Haroon Akhtar, Rana Maqbool, Mussadiq Malik and Rana Mehmoodul Hassan are PML-N candidates from Punjab while Shehzad Ali from Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Chaudhry Sarwar of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Kamil Ali Agha of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q) are taking part from Punjab.
Hafiz Abdul Karim and finance minister Ishaq Dar, belonging to PML-N, are contesting the polls for technocrat seats. Also contesting for technocrat seats are PTI’s Malik Asif Javed and PPP’s Nawazish Ali Khan.
Sadia Abbasi of PML-N, Hina Rabbani Khar, Andaleeb Abbasi and Nuzhat Sadiq are contesting Senate elections 2018 from Punjab for women’s seats.
Kamran Michael and Victor are contending for one minority’s seat in Senate from Punjab.
On the other hand, as many as 24 candidates are to contest polls for four Senate seats reserved for Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). For 12 seats for Sindh, as many as 33 candidates are taking part.
26 candidates are to contest the elections for 11 seats of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province and 23 candidates for 11 seats of Balochistan province.
First vote cast in provincial assemblies
The process of polling started after Speaker National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq casts first vote while Member of Provincial Assembly (MPA) Ziaullah Afridi casts first vote at Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly in Peshawar.
Law Minister Rana Sanaullah casts first vote for Senate elections at Punjab Assembly in Lahore. Talking to media, he said that public decisions are not bound to follow dictatorship and any rules, adding that PML-N has not done horse trading for the polls.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) leader Raja Riaz asked for vote from Rana Sanaullah however, he smiled and left the place after inquiring about his health.
Meanwhile, polling in Karachi faced delay as the voters were busy in breakfast arranged by Chief Minister of Sindh (CM) Murad Ali Shah.
On the other hand, no vote has been cast in Balochistan Assembly so far.
Opposition will get nothing in today’s polls: Marriyum Aurangzeb
Talking to media, State Minister for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb said people always welcome ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif wherever he goes. She said that an elected PM was removed on the basis of Iqama. No evidence was found against Nawaz Sharif, she added.
Marriyum further predicted that PML-N will emerge as winner in today’s polls.
No compromise on secrecy of vote: EC Secretary
Babar Yaqub, the Secretary of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), on Saturday morning visited the Parliament House to review arrangements for Senate elections 2018.
Speaking to media, Babar Yaqub said that he has received several complaints that voters are carrying slips in their pockets. He said the returning officers have been strictly ordered to counter such activities.
There will be no compromise on the secrecy of vote, he added.