Pakistan holds Senate election, security beefed up

Pakistan's senate election seen as a bellwether for Shahbaz Sharif

Senior Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Chaudhry Nisar said on Saturday that he is not playing cricket, thus no need arises for him to be on the front or back foot in the party.

Talking to media persons outside the Punjab assembly in Lahore, the Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah expressed with confidence that all the nominated candidates of PML-N would be victorious, adding the PML-N would win all the 12 Senate seats from Punjab.

National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq cast the first vote in the elections while Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi also arrived in the assembly to cast his ballot.

Nisar has become disgruntled from the leadership of ruling party after Supreme Court's verdict in Panama Papers case in which the apex court disqualified ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

TRT World's Kamran Yousaf reports from Islamabad.

According to a statement from the Election Commission, at least 135 candidates are competing for the 52 Senate seats from all the four provinces of the country, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the capital of Islamabad.

Today, Pakistanis will go to the polls to elect 46 of 104 senate seats in a key bellwether for the lower house general elections later this year.

The opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) now controls the 104-seat senate but is expected to be replaced by the PML-N as the single biggest party.

PML-N party officials say those candidates, running as "independents", are expected to pledge their allegiance to PML-N if they are elected to the Senate.

However, official results will not immediately show how well PML-N has done because some candidates were barred from running under the party's banner.

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