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Pakistan 'secret ballot' sees ruling party extend parliament dominance

Nawaz Sharif still has huge support in Pakistan [AFP]

Date of publication: 4 March, 2018

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Pakistan's Muslim League-Nawaz extended its hold over parliament, with a secret ballot seeing the party win a majority in the senate and upper house.

Pakistan's ruling party extended its hold over parliament this weekend, after a secret ballot saw the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) gaining control of the upper house.

The PML-N toppled the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) to become the biggest party, winning 15 seats in the senate, giving it 33 of the 104 seats in the upper house.

With allied parties and MPs, the PML-N will now dominate parliament.

"Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has secured a clear majority in the Senate polls," the party said on Twitter.

The win also gives incoming prime minister and former leader of the PML-N Nawaz Sharif a possible new avenue to re-enter politics, following his disqualification from office on charges of corruption last year.

With the party now in control of the senate, the PML-N could change the constitution to allow Sharif to run in this summer's general elections.

"PMLN now the single largest party in Senate as well, Masha'Allah," Maryam Nawaz Sharif, the former prime minister's daughter tweeted, according to Reuters.

Last month a Pakistan court removed Sharif as head of PML-N, while a number of candidates linked to the former prime minister were also disqualified from running under the party's name.

These candidates ran as "independents" with the official results of the vote not showing their links to the PML-N, but does give the party effective control over the upper house.

Sharif has alleged he is the victim of a conspiracy by Pakistan's deep state to damage civilian power.

Pakistan's military is hugely influential – both politically and economically - and has launched a number of coups in the past.
The vote also saw Pakistan elect its first female "dalit" senator.

Kumari Kohli's will enter parliament as a member of the PPP and her win as a member of Pakistan's Hindu community's "lowest" cast surprised many.


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