Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif casts his vote during Senate Elections held at provincial assembly building in Lahore on Friday. – Photo by PPI.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's ruling party made gains in the country's upper house of parliament in legislative elections on Friday, a boost for beleaguered President Asif Ali Zardari in his long-running conflict with the country's top court and it’s military.

By late evening, Zardari's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) appeared to be on course to get control of the Senate, giving him valuable political firepower for several years to come. The results were expected, given the PPP's lower house majority and strong presence in provincial legislatures, which elect the senators.

Just surviving to Senate elections was an achievement for the government, which has faced relentless political attacks since it took office in 2008. Like others before it, it has largely failed to make any progress in fixing the daunting challenges facing Pakistan, and has been mired in alleged corruption and mismanagement.

Some rivals had hoped that Zardari would be forced into calling early general elections, be ousted by the Supreme Court or even subject to a coup before the Senate vote could be held.

About half of the 104 senators are being replaced because their terms have come to an end.

The votes were still being counted, but the PPP and its allies won 32 out of 49 seats; five seats were yet to be announced.

The Senate can block legislation and takes part in any impeachment proceedings. Senators serve for six years.

Elections for Pakistan's lower house of parliament are likely to take place later this year. The PPP, elected on the back of a sympathy vote following the assassination of Zardari's wife, Benazir Bhutto, in 2007, is not expected to do so well this time around.

The Supreme Court is currently trying to force Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, a PPP politician, to initiate corruption proceedings against Zardari. Gilani has refused, and is facing contempt charges that could see him imprisoned and lose his job.

The powerful army, which has ruled Pakistan for much of its history, is also widely believed to want to see Zardari leave office. It is supporting a separate court probe into a memo sent to Washington last year asking for its help in clipping the wings of the army, which some have suggested could see treason charges filed against Zardari.

Opinion

The ECI headache
08 May 2021

The ECI headache

The ECI sat mute while BJP held huge rallies without following SOPs.
Engaging the enemy
08 May 2021

Engaging the enemy

The ghost of the Musharraf formula has started to haunt the current backchannel process.
Will OIC confront France?
Updated 08 May 2021

Will OIC confront France?

For Pakistan to keep its GSP-Plus status it will have to show the EU that it treats its blasphemy accused fairly.
Standing by Kashmir
Updated 07 May 2021

Standing by Kashmir

A comprehensive failure of governance is always a comprehensive moral failure of the governors.

Editorial

Updated 08 May 2021

Delayed poll debate

THE debate on electoral reforms is going nowhere. Even though the major political parties say reforms are critical,...
08 May 2021

Reducing deficit

THE numbers show that the government has managed to arrest growth in fiscal deficit — the difference between the...
08 May 2021

Rise in dog bites

ON Wednesday, an unusually high number of dog-bite cases were reported in Larkana, when 19 people — the majority ...
Reprimanding envoys
Updated 07 May 2021

Reprimanding envoys

The prime minister should have engaged with honest and respectable officers to identify how solutions can be found.
07 May 2021

Foreign funding case

THE foreign funding case against the PTI has become a never-ending tale. It has been dragging on for years and after...
07 May 2021

Water woes

IRRIGATION experts have voiced concern over the decline of freshwater flow through Kotri barrage, which has led to...