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Elections for the Upper House of parliament were conducted on Thursday amid blames of horse- trading and massive use of wealth by political parties to buy votes. As per results, ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) emerged as a majority party by securing 18 seats out of total 48 while Pakistan Peoples Party stands second by bagging eight seats.
The PPP now has 27 seats in the Senate, PML-N has 26 including all 11 seats of Punjab while Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf has secured five seats. Election on four Senate seats from Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) was postponed amidst legal and constitutional complications.
Senate elections were conducted following criticism and controversies as political parties failed to reach a consensus regarding horse trading. Earlier on Monday, PTI Chairman Imran Khan accused the PPP and JUI-F of being involved in horse-trading and refused to support them. He also accused the federal government for not being sincere about bringing a constitutional amendment in favour of open-ballot in the Senate elections. The PPP and JUI-Fn had also reaffirmed being on the same page for the elections of Senate regarding the procedure of voting.
Meanwhile Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif faced criticism by political parties for not taking part in senate voting as they were on official visit to Saudi Arabia
Visit of Indian secretary to Pakistan was the second most covered event as both sides see it as a significant confidence building measure towards the resumption of stalled dialogues. Indian Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar arrived Tuesday on a two-day visit to meet his Pakistani counterpart, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry. According to media reports Pakistan formally took up with India the issues, including Indian involvement in unrest in Balochistan and terrorism in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) as well as probe into Samjhota Express. The Indian foreign secretary also took up the issue of Mumbai attacks probe and India’s stance regarding LoC violations. Both the sides also pledged to continue cooperation to improve their bilateral relations and keep the diplomatic channels intact. Both sides also recognized that the two countries needed to work together to address mutual concerns and make efforts to promote peace and development. Indian foreign secretary also met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif where both agreed to establish good neighbourly and cooperative relations.
Earlier, India had cancelled the scheduled Pak-India foreign secretaries-level talks last August after Pakistani High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit met Kashmiri Hurriyat leaders.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s three- day visit to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday made headlines in Pakistani press as this was his first official visit to the kingdom on the special invitation of King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud himself, accompanied by his whole cabinet received the prime minister at King Khalid International Airport.
The focus of talks between the two leaders was bilateral relations, regional and international issues and importance of Pakistan-Saudi relations. Both the leaders vowed to strengthen their relations further in various fields. Issue of terrorism and extremism also came under discussion as both the leaders pledge to continue to cooperate with each other in field of security.
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