2018 Pakistani Senate election

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2018 Pakistani Senate election

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52 of the 104 seats in the Senate of Pakistan
53 seats needed for a majority
  Majority party Minority party Third party
Leader Raja Zafar-ul-Haq Sherry Rehman Azam Swati
Leader's seat Technocrat Punjab General Sindh Technocrat KP
Last election 26 27 9
Seats won 33 20 15
Seat change Increase7 Decrease7 Increase6

Chairman before election

Raza Rabbani

Elected Chairman

Sadiq Sanjrani

The triennial Senate Elections of Pakistan were held on 3 March 2018 to replace 52 retiring senators - half of the Senate's strength - with the winning candidates serving six-year terms.[1] Overall, Pakistan Muslim League (N) came out as the largest party, followed by the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.[2] The results of these elections were steeped in controversy due to rampant allegations of horse trading and vote-buying, which lead to the Prime Minister and opposition leader Imran Khan calling for reforms.[3][4][5] Prior to this election, PML (N) candidates were declared as independents by the Election Commission of Pakistan owing to a Supreme Court judgment.[6]

Elections for the chairmanship and deputy chairmanship of the senate were held on 12 March 2018. Both posts were won by joint opposition's candidates with Sadiq Sanjrani and Saleem Mandviwalla being elected chairman and deputy chairman, respectively.[7]


The Senate of Pakistan is the upper house of the Parliament of Pakistan. It consists of 104 senators with each senator serving a 6-year term. The elections are conducted triennially for half the seats in the senate. This staggered nature of the terms means that at any given time senators from two different elections are serving in the Senate.[8]

The 2018 elections were conducted on 3 March 2018 to replace the senators elected during the 2012 elections. The electoral process is based on an indirect single transferable vote. This is in contrast to the methodology of direct first-past-the-post voting used in all other parliamentary elections in the country. Thus, effectively, the senators in Pakistan are voted for by serving members of the country's National and Provincial Assemblies and not the public.[8] This reduction in electorate, the transferable nature of the vote, and secrecy of the ballot have resulted in the senate elections in the country being almost always marred by allegations of vote trading.[9][10][11][12]

In terms of seats, there is a fixed representation of each of the country's administrative units in the senate, apart from the disputed territories of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir. There are 23 seats from each province, 8 from Federally Administered Tribal Areas, and 4 from the capital region of Islamabad. In a given election, half of these seats are contested. Due to the odd nature of the number of seats from the provinces, each election cycle sees two provinces elect all 12 representatives, while the remaining two elect 11.[8][13]

This year's elections took place in an environment of uncertainty as one of the electing houses, the Balochistan Assembly, saw an in-house change,[14] the lower house's speaker, Ayaz Sadiq, voiced concerns that 'hidden elements' might not let the current government complete its term,[15][16] and the candidacy of PML-N candidates was stripped mere days before the election. Further still, in the lead up to the elections, the ruling PML-N was of the opinion that the provincial assemblies in which it is not in power, namely, Balochistan, Sindh, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, might be prematurely dissolved to postpone the senate elections until after the general elections.[17][18]

Candidacy of PML-N Nominees[edit]

On 28 July 2017, the Supreme Court of Pakistan disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from holding public office. Following this, the Elections Act 2017 was passed, which allowed Sharif to serve as party head despite being disqualified.[19] However, in a later judgement passed by the Supreme Court on 21 February 2018, Sharif was disqualified from holding office as party president. In this judgement, all decisions taken by Sharif during his tenure as party president were declared null and void, including Senate tickets which he had signed himself.[20] To prevent delay in Senate elections, the Election Commission of Pakistan declared all PML(N) candidates as Independents.[6]


Voting is conducted on the basis of single transferable vote where a voter prioritizes their vote among a list of candidates. First priority votes are given the highest weightage and carry 100 points. The Election Commission of Pakistan establishes the criterion for the minimum number of points required to attain a senate seat. During the first count, when a candidate breaches that criterion, they are declared a winner for the seat. Any surplus points they have are divided among other preferences in successive iteration(s). Similarly, a candidate who falls well short of this criterion during the first count has their points transferred among other preferences in subsequent count(s). This whole exercise is repeated iteratively until all vacant seats are filled.[13]

It is pertinent to mention that the points system is only used for senators to be elected from general, women, and technocrat seats in provincial assemblies. For senators who are elected from the National Assembly or are running for a minority/non-Muslim seat in the provinces, only a vote count is used.[13]

In a typical election, a total of 52 seats are contested. Of which 33 are general seats (7 from each province, 4 from FATA, and 1 from Islamabad), 9 are technocrat seats (2 from each province, and 1 from Islamabad), 8 are women seats (2 apiece from each province), and 2 are minority seats (1 each from 2 provinces).[13]

Voting Requirements[edit]

The following table outlines the voting requirements in the current senate elections. The Minimum Votes Required column only considers first priority votes:

General Seats
Administrative Unit Elections Conducted at Points Required Minimum Votes Required
Punjab Provincial Assembly 4563[21] 46
Sindh Provincial Assembly 1838[22] 19
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Assembly 1476[23] 15
Balochistan Provincial Assembly 788[24] 8
FATA National Assembly N/A 7[25]
ICT National Assembly N/A 146[26]

Only members from FATA are eligible to vote.

Technocrat Seats
Administrative Unit Elections Conducted at Points Required Minimum Votes Required
Punjab Provincial Assembly 12067[21] 121
Sindh Provincial Assembly 5001[22] 51
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Assembly 4001[23] 41
Balochistan Provincial Assembly 2134[24] 22
ICT National Assembly N/A 144[26]
Women Seats
Administrative Unit Elections Conducted at Points Required Minimum Votes Required
Punjab Provincial Assembly 12067[21] 121
Sindh Provincial Assembly 5001[22] 51
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Assembly 4001[23] 41
Balochistan Provincial Assembly 2134[24] 22
Minority Seats
Administrative Unit Elections Conducted at Minimum Votes Required
Punjab Provincial Assembly 179[21]
Sindh Provincial Assembly 75[22]

Minority Seats are filled for only 2 provinces in a given election. This way the elections for these seats alternate between Punjab/Sindh and Balochistan/KPK.


A total of 131 candidates were in the run for the 52 seats. 33 from Sindh, 26 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 24 from FATA, 23 from Balochistan, 20 from Punjab, and 5 from Islamabad.[27]

Candidates by Administrative Unit[edit]

Seat Type Candidate Party
General Asif Kirmani PML-N
Mehmoodul Hassan PML-N
Rana Maqbool PML-N
Zubair Gul PML-N
Shaheen Butt PML-N
Musadik Malik PML-N
Haroon Khan PML-N
Kamil Ali Agha PML-Q
Shahzad Khan PPP
Chaudhry Sarwar PTI
Technocrat Naseer Bhutta PML-N
Hafiz Abdul Kareem PML-N
Ishaq Dar PML-N
Nawazish Pirzada PPP
Asif Javaid PTI
Women Saadia Abbasi PML-N
Nuzhat Sadiq PML-N
Andaleeb Abbas PTI
Minority Kamran Michael PML-N
Victor Azariah PTI
Seat Type Candidate Party
General Ahmed Chinoy MQM
Amin-ul-Haq MQM
Amir Chishti MQM
Farhan Chishti MQM
Farogh Naseem MQM
Kamran Tessori MQM
Muzaffar Hussain PML-F
Sarfaraz Jatoi PML-N
Imamuddin Shouqeen PPP
Ayaz Mehar PPP
Ali Shah Jamot PPP
Murtaza Wahab PPP
Mustafa Khokhar PPP
Moula Bux Chandio PPP
Raza Rabbani PPP
Anis Ahmed Khan PSP
Sagheer Ahmed PSP
Mubashir Imam PSP
Technocrat Hasan Feroz MQM
Abdul Kadir Khanzada MQM
Ali Raza Abidi MQM
Sikandar Mandhro PPP
Rukhsana Zuberi PPP
Najeeb Haroon PTI
Women Nikhat Shakeel MQM
Kishwer Zehra MQM
Nasreen Jalil MQM
Mangla Sharma MQM
Qurutulain Marri PPP
Keshoo Bai PPP
Minority Sanjay Perwani MQM
Anwar Lal Deen PPP
Mohan Manjiani PSP
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa[30]
Seat Type Candidate Party
General Masood Abbas ANP
Mushtaq Ahmed JI
Gul Naseeb Khan JUI-F
Talha Mahmood JUI-F
Pir Sabir Shah PML-N
Ali Afzal Jadoon PML-N
Bahramand Tangi PPP
Faisal Sakhi Butt PPP
Khial Zaman PTI
Abdul Latif Yousafzai PTI
Fida Muhammad PTI
Faisal Javed PTI
Muhammad Ayub PTI
Muhammad Ghufran QWP
Technocrat Yaqoob Sheikh JUI-F
Sami-ul-Haq Independent
Dilawar Khan PML-N
Nisar Khan PML-N
Azam Swati PTI
Women Shagufta Malik ANP
Naeema Kishwar JUI-F
Sobia Shahid PML-N
Raeesa Daud PML-N
Rubina Khalid PPP
Mehr Taj Roghani PTI
Naureen Farooq PTI
Anisa Zeb Tahirkheli QWP
Seat Type Candidate Party
General Nizam-ud-Din Kakkar ANP
Hamayun Kurd BNP-M
Ahmed Khan Independent
Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar Independent
Hussain Islam Independent
Allauddin Independent
Fateh Baloch Independent
Kauda Babar Independent
Sadiq Sanjrani Independent
Abdul Qadir Independent
Muhammad Akram NP
Faiz Muhammad JUI-F
Shafeeq Tareen PKMAP
Amir Afzal Khan PML-N
Yousaf Kakar PML-N
Naseebullah Bazai Independent
Technocrat Kamran Murtaza JUI-F
Tahir Bizenjo NP
Abdul Manaf Tareen PML-N
Women Sana Jamali Independent
Shama Magsi Independent
Azra Syed JUI-F
Tahir Khursheed NP
Abida Azeem PKMAP
Samina Zehri PML-N
Seat Type Candidate Party
General Aqal Shah Independent
Said Jamal Independent
Haji Khan Independent
Sajid Turi Independent
Ghazi Ghazan Jamal Independent
Shah Khalid Independent
Shahid Hussain Independent
Shoaib Hassan Independent
Shammim Afridi Independent
Saleh Sarwar Independent
Zia-ur-Rehman Independent
Tahir Iqbal Independent
Abdul Raziq Independent
Faiz-ur-Rehman Independent
Mirza Afridi Independent
Afzal Din Khan Independent
Najamul Hassan Independent
Nizam Uddin Khan Independent
Hidayat Ullah Independent
Hillal-ur-Rehman Independent
Jangriz Khan PPP
Akhunzada Chattan PPP
Shahban Ali PPP
Farhad Shabab PPP
Seat Type Candidate Party
General Asad Junejo PML-N
Atif Fazal PML-N
Imran Ashraf PPP
Kanwa Shauzab PTI
Technocrat Mushahid Hussain PML-N
Shakil Abbasi PPP



Overall, PML (N) backed Independents won the most seats, securing 15 of the 52 seats up for election. 11 of these seats were from Punjab, 2 of them from Islamabad and 2 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.[34] The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) closely trailed behind, securing 12 of the 52 seats. Of these, 10 were won in Sindh and 2 were won in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.[34] Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) secured 6 seats of which 5 came from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and one from Punjab.[34]

The strong performance of the PPP raised many eyebrows and led to allegations of 'horse trading' by the party. Noting that MQM, despite having 52 MPAs in the Sindh Assembly, only managed to secure one senator, whilst the PPP managed to secure two senators - including one on the women's seat - from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with only 7 MPAs.[35][36][37]

Another surprise win was by Chaudhry Sarwar of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf from a general seat in Punjab who gained 44 first priority and 2 second priority votes - the most in the assembly this election.[21] This was a surprise because the result came about despite the PTI-PML (Q) alliance only having 38 votes.[38] This indicated that Sarwar had also been voted for by members of Pakistan Muslim League (N) and Pakistan Peoples Party.[39]

Finally, on a Women seat from Sindh, Krishna Kolhi of the PPP became the first Dalit to be elected to the Senate of Pakistan.[40][41][42]

Results by Administrative Units[edit]

NOTE: All PML-N candidates officially ran as Independents


Seat Type Winners
General Asif Kirmani


Shaheen Butt


Haroon Khan


Musadik Malik


Rana Maqbool


Mehmoodul Hassan


Chaudhry Sarwar


Technocrat Ishaq Dar (PML-N) Hafiz Abdul Karim (PML-N)
Women Saadia Abbasi (PML-N) Nuzhat Sadiq (PML-N)
Minority Kamran Micheal (PML-N)
Seat Type Winners
General Raza Rabbani


Bux Chandio


Ali Shah Jamote


Mustafa Nawaz Khokar


Sikandar Menghro


Farogh Naseem


Muzaffar Hussain


Technocrat Rukhsana Zubairi (PPP) Sikander Mandhro (PPP)
Women Qurultain Marri (PPP) Krishna Kolhi (PPP)
Minority Anwar Laal Dean (PPP)
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Seat Type Winners
General Faisal Javed


Muhammad Ayub


Fida Muhammad


Pir Sabir Shah


Bahramand Tangi


Talha Mahmood


Mushtaq Ahmed


Technocrat Azam Swati (PTI) Dilawar Khan (PML-N)
Women Meher Tag Roghani (PTI) Robina Khalid (PPP)
Seat Type Winners
General Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar (Independent) Ahmed Khan


Khuda Babar


Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani


Muhammad Shafiq Tareen


Faiz Muhammad


Muhammad Akram


Technocrat Naseebullah Bazai (Independent) Tahir Bizenjo (NP)
Women Sana Jamali (Independent) Abida Umar (PkMAP)

Federally Administered Units[edit]

NOTE: FATA only has general seats, while Islamabad has 1 general and 1 technocrat seat that were up in this election.

Seat Type Winners
General Shammim Afridi


Mirza Muhammad Afridi


Hidayat Ullah


Hillal ur Rehman


Seat Type Winners
General Asad Junejo


Technocrat Mushahid Hussain


Election of Chairman and Deputy Chairman[edit]

After the winning candidates have been notified by the Election Commission, there is a one-week delay until they take oath. During that time, retiring senators make their farewell speeches[43][44][45] and any objections on the successful candidates is handled.[46] After this time has lapsed, the reconstituted senate elects their Chairman and Deputy Chairman by a simple majority via a secret ballot.[47]

Candidates and Results[edit]

Two candidates apiece, from the opposition and treasury benches, contested the elections on 12 March 2018.[48] Joint opposition's candidates, Sadiq Sanjrani and Saleem Mandviwalla, won the elections for their respective seats.[7][49]

Candidate Contesting for Party Votes Obtained Supported by
Sadiq Sanjrani Chairmanship Independent 57 checkY Opposition Benches


Saleem Mandviwalla Deputy Chairmanship PPP 54 checkY
Raja Zafar-ul-Haq Chairmanship PML-N 46 ☒N Treasury Benches
Usman Khan Kakar Deputy Chairmanship PkMAP 44 ☒N


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