Islamabad: Pakistani lawmakers voted for new senators in parliament's upper house today with unofficial results showing Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's ruling PML-N securing 16 seats out of 48, strengthening his grip on power.
The contests was for the 48 out of 104 seats in the upper house. Sharif runs a coalition government that holds 59 per cent of the lower house while the main opposition party, the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), currently holds a majority in the Senate.
Total 52 seats were up for grab but four members, two each of Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and Mutahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) were elected unopposed and polls for four seats in tribal area were postponed.
There were 132 candidates in the running for 48 Senate seats today.
Official results are expected tomorrow after voting times were extended in Pakistan's northwest.
Four candidates have already been elected unopposed when the process for election started last month. Polls for four seats were delayed by a court order.
The polling started at 9 am and was stopped for few hours due to allegation of rigging by different parties.
Radio Pakistan reported that PML-N of Prime Minister Sharif secured 16 seats out of 44 contested today.
The PPP of former president Asif Ali Zardari got seven, MQM four and Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party and National Party three each. Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl and Balochistan National Party-Mengal have got one seat each. One independent candidate has also won from Balochistan.
The Senate is a continuous body and senators are elected for six years but under the law, half of the 104-member house retire after every three years.
A victory would strengthen his hand as he pushes to revive an economy hobbled by power shortages and an insurgency. The Senate, controlled by opposition parties, remains an obstacle to Sharif's economic agenda.
The Senate gives equal representation to all four provinces with including 23 members, eight from FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) and four from Islamabad.
The seats allocated to a province comprise 14 general seats, four reserved for women, four for technocrats and one for a minority member.
Ashok Kumar of National Party was elected as Senator on minority seat.