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Sharif's Party Reportedly Gains Control Of Pakistani Senate

Former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif
Former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif

Reports from Pakistan say the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party gained control of parliament's upper house in a secret ballot on March 3.

Pakistan’s national and provincial parliaments were voting on March 3 in Senate elections that are seen as a test of the PML-N party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Pakistan’s Geo TV and other local media report that candidates backed by the PML-N won 15 of the 52 Senate seats up for grabs, overtaking the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) as the largest group in the upper house.

PPP candidates reportedly won 12 seats.

"PMLN now the single largest party in Senate as well," tweeted Sharif's daughter and presumed political heir, Maryam Nawaz Sharif.

Mushahid Hussain Sayed, who won a seat in the capital, Islamabad, said the senate victory vindicates Sharif's political "narrative" with voters.

Pakistani political analysts say that by working with allied politicians in the Senate, PML-N should have de facto control of the 104-seat chamber.

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.

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.

Lawmakers in the country’s four provincial assemblies – Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Baluchistan -- and the National Assembly were electing the 52 senators from among more than 130 candidates.

The vote came as Sharif’s PML-N is in disarray after the Supreme Court in July 2017 disqualified Sharif from office due to corruption charges.

His party then changed the country's laws to allow him to resume his role as its leader.

Pakistan's election commission (ECP) rejected his nomination as head of the party but said that the party's lawmakers could contest the March 3 vote by lawmakers as independent candidates.

PML-N's leaders have been beset by corruption allegations, including against Sharif's younger brother, Shahbaz Sharif.

With reporting by dpa and
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