ISLAMABAD, Pakistan held elections for its Senate to elect 52 members of the house for the next six years on Saturday amid strict measures to ensure transparency, the Election Commission said.

According to a statement from the Election Commission of Pakistan, at least 135 candidates, including 110 men and 25 women, are competing for the 52 Senate seats from all the four provinces of the country, northwest Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the capital of Islamabad.

As many as 20 candidates are contesting against 12 seats from eastern Punjab province, 33 against 12 seats from southern Sindh province, 27 against 11 seats from northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, 25 against 11 seats from southwest Balochistan province, 24 against four seats from FATA and six against two seats from Islamabad.

Among the candidates, 20 are from the Pakistan People's Party led by Pakistan's former Pakistani President Asif Zardari, 14 from the Mutahidda Qaumi Movement, 13 from Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, 65 independents and others.

Among the 65 independent candidates, 23 contestants are nominated by ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) who were prohibited by the Supreme Court last week to contest the elections on their party tickets. Some local media reports said that 131 candidates are competing now after four candidates have withdrawn from the elections in favor of some other runners.

Pakistani political analysts believed that the PML-N-backed independent candidates are likely to top in the Saturday's Senate elections by winning more seats than its rivals.

Aslam Khan, a senior political analyst and renowned Urdu columnist, told Xinhua that the PML-N of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has a very strong position to outnumber rivals and take a majority in the upper house of the parliament.

The analyst said that the PML-N would win at least 15 seats in the elections as it has more than a two-thirds majority in eastern Punjab province assembly and in the National Assembly, the lower house of the parliament.

In Pakistan, the 342-member National Assembly and four provincial assemblies are the Electoral College for the Senate. Members of the National Assembly will also elect senators for Islamabad and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

The contestants from provinces will be elected by members of provincial assemblies respectively while the aspirants from Islamabad and FATA will get votes from the members of the National Assembly.

If the PML-N wins 15 seats, its total number of senators in the upper house will rise to 33, more than any other party in the house.

Pakistan's Senate comprises 23 members from each province, eight from FATA and four members from Islamabad. The Senate elections are held after every three years to elect half seats that have completed their six-year term. The last elections were held in 2015 and the next will be conducted in 2021.

The polling is being held in four provincial assemblies and at the National Assembly in Islamabad. The polling process will continue from 9:00 a.m. (0400 GMT) until 4:00 p.m. local time (1100 GMT) without any break.

Source: Nam News Network