Polling for the 37 seats of Pakistan’s Senate is underway via secret ballot as a total of 78 candidates are contesting from the federal capital and three provinces – Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
According to Dawn, the first vote in the National Assembly was cast by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Shafiq Arain while the second one was cast by federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, NA Speaker Asad Qaiser and Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif are among those, who have cast their votes for the elections of Pakistan’s Upper House.
The polling began at 9 am on Wednesday and will continue till 5 pm without any break. Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) staff reached the Parliament House in Islamabad early morning on Wednesday to initiate proceedings of the elections.
Polling is also underway in provincial assemblies, except Punjab, where all Senate candidates were elected unopposed last month after disqualification or withdrawal of papers by other contestants.
The polls are being held after a long-drawn open ballot controversy, after President Arif Alvi had signed the Elections (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 to pave the way for Senate elections to be held via an ‘open and identifiable ballot’.
The controversy kept the ruling and opposition in a war of words and a legal battle before the Supreme Court on Monday announced that the polls for the Upper House of Parliament will be held through secret ballot, according to Article 226 of the Constitution.
While the ruling PTI’s numerical strength in the Senate is expected to almost double from the existing 14 seats, the fiercest contest is expected between former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who is contesting as a joint candidate of the 11-party opposition alliance – Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), and Hafeez Sheikh, Adviser to PM Imran Khan on Finance, Dawn reported.