ISLAMABAD - As the election for 52 of the total 104 seats of the Upper House of the Parliament is scheduled to be held on March 3 through secret balloting, Pakistan People’s Party will be the major loser in the Senate as 18 of its lawmakers are set to retire on March 11.

With the retirement of 18 senators of PPP out of its total 26 existing seats in the Upper House, it is likely that at least eight (tentative figure) lawmakers of the party can make their way into the house.

However, the number may increase keeping in view the process of secret balloting of Senate elections and the recent rumours of horse-trading in Balochistan Assembly that are kept on circulating in the political circles.

With the addition of at least eight senators, the total number of seats of PPP will become 16 contrary to its existing 26 seats. At present, PPP is the second largest party in the house after the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) which has total 27 senators.

Under the formula of Senate elections, each provincial assembly elects its representatives on the basis of party strength in that house. Each province has 23 members out of the 104-member house and half of the senators retire after every three years after completing their six-year term.

PPP will get most of the seats from the Sindh Assembly where the party has a majority.

However, political observers view that PPP can manage to get one or two seats at least from the Balochistan Assembly though the party had no strengthen in the province. This is being observed after the recent unceremonious removal of PML-N’s Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Khan Zehri from Balochistan and the election of the PML-Q candidate, which is otherwise minority party in the province, as the new CM. PML-N has alleged that PPP leader and former president Asif Ali Zardari was behind the recent horse-trading in Balochistan.

Sindh Assembly has total of 168 seats while the existing strength of the assembly is 167. On March 3, total of 12 senators would be elected from Sindh and Punjab while 11 senators each would be elected from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

Under the formula, 24 votes would be required to elect each senator on general seat from the Sindh Assembly. The election on seven general seats, two women seats, two technocrat seats and one non-Muslim community seat would be held in Sindh Assembly. For women, technocrat and non-Muslim seats, those would be declared winner who would get majority votes out of the total votes cast.

In Sindh Assembly, PPP has 95 members, Muttahida Quami Movement has 50, PML-Functional nine, PML-N seven, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) four, National People’s Party has one member while one seat is of independent member. So, PPP will get four senators from general seats while one each from women, technocrat and non-Muslim seats.

However, the cracks as well as splinter groups within MQM could help the PPP to secure one or two more seats from the Sindh Assembly.

Similarly, if PPP reached some understanding with other parties in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, it can manage at least one more seat from any province though the party had no required strength in both of these provinces to get any seat.

Four PPP bigwigs, including Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Aitzaz Ahsan, parliamentary leader of PPP in the Senate Taj Haider and a very vocal voice in the Senate on issue of human rights and enforced disappearances Senator Farhatullah Babar are set to retire on March 11 after completing their six-year term. It is likely that Raza Rabbani and Taj Haider could return in the house because of the PPP majority in Sindh Assembly as both senators are from Sindh. However, it will be difficult for Ahsan and Babar to make their way in the house as both are from Punjab and KP respectively where PPP did not hold the required strength to elect a single senator.

Those PPP senators who are retiring from Sindh include Mian Raza Rabbani, Taj Haider, Dr Karim Ahmed Khawaja, Murtaza Wahab, Mukhtiar Ahmad Dhamrah, Sehar Kamran and Hari Ram. Similarly, Sardar Fateh Mohammad Hassani, Mohammad Yousaf, Nawabzada Saifullah Magsi and Rozi Kakar are retiring from Balochistan; Farhatullah Babar, Saifullah Bangash, Ahmad Hassan and Rubina Khalid  from KP; Aitzaz Ahsan and Khalida Perveen (Punjab) while Osman Saifullah Khan  from Islamabad).

PPP leader and Secretary General PPP (Parliamentarian) Senator Farhatullah Babar said that though PPP had no required strength in Punjab, KP and Balochistan to get elected its senators yet the party will issue tickets to its candidates in these provinces. This is necessary to come at a good bargain position with other parties, he said adding that he himself was applying for the Senate ticket from KP. He said that the party had not yet finalised tickets and a parliamentary board will meet in Karachi soon to shortlist candidates and after that senior party leader would finalise tickets. “I am not in a position to say who was being issued party tickets,” he said. He added that the deadline to apply for the party tickets for Senate seats would expire on Tuesday midnight.

The Senate consists of 104 members, including 23 members from each of the four provinces, eight from Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and four from Islamabad Capital Territory. Each province has 14 general and nine reserved seats — four for women and technocrats each while one seat is reserved for a non-Muslim community member.

For 104-member house, all four provincial assemblies would cast vote for their respective representatives while members of the National Assembly would elect senators from Islamabad and MNAs from FATA would elect eights senators.