Polls race begins with naming of Senate hopefuls

Lists include names of bigwigs like ex-PM Yousuf Raza Gilani, Dr Hafeez Shaikh and Shibli Faraz

Our Correspondent February 13, 2021


Major political parties of the country – including the ruling PTI, the PML-N, the PPP and the JUI-F – have unveiled lists of their candidates who will take part in the upcoming Senate election schedule for March 3.

The candidates include bigwigs like former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who was disqualified by the apex court on June 19, 2002 for contempt of court, PPP’s Farhatullah Babar and Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and Shibli Faraz, the incumbent ministers for finance and information, respectively.

In a series of posts on micro-blogging site Twitter, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry on Friday announced that the party has finalised the names of most of its candidates after a parliamentary board meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

“The party has shortlisted Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and Fouzia Arshad for the Senate seats in Islamabad. From Sindh, the party has decided to nominate Faisal Vawda and Saifullah Abro, the latter on technocrat seat. Abdul Qadir is the PTI’s candidate from Balochistan,” he said.

According to the minister, the party nominated Saifullah Niazi, PTI’s provincial spokesperson Dr Zarqa and Barrister Ali Zafar from Punjab, adding that the remaining names will be revealed later.

"The PTI decided to nominate Shibli Faraz, Mohsin Aziz, Dost Mohammad, Dr Sania Nishtar and Farzana Rauf from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). Names of other candidates will be announced later,” he said.

Dr Sania Nishtar currently serves as special assistant to the prime minister on poverty alleviation.

The major constituent parties of the 11-party opposition alliance – Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) – also unveiled the names of their candidates for the upcoming polls.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also used his official Twitter account to post the list of party leaders nominated to contest the elections. According to the list, the PPP has nominated Farhatullah Babar and Yousuf Raza Gilani as joint candidates of the PDM from K-P and Islamabad, respectively.

The rest of the candidates – nine in total – will contest election from Sindh, the PPP’s political bastion. These include Jam Mehtab Dehar, Taj Haider, Saleem Mandviwala, Sherry Rehman, Farooq H Naek, Shahadat Awan, Dr Karim Khawaja, Palwashah Khan and Khairul Nisa Mughal.

Jam Mehtab Dahar served as former Sindh education and health minister while Taj Haider is a senior PPP stalwart who has also served as a senator in the past.

Mandviwala is the incumbent Senate deputy chairman while Sherry Rehman is the PPP’s parliamentary leader in the Senate. Mandviwala and Sherry will complete their current six-year-term on March 11.

The party has nominated Farooq H Naek, Shahadat Awan and Dr Karim Khawaja on the technocrat’s seats. Naek has served as the Senate chairman while Awan earlier served as Sindh prosecutor general.

It has given its tickets to Palwashah Khan and Khairul Nisa Mughal on women’s seat while Rukhsana Shah is a covering candidate.

Palwashah hails from Chakwal district and served earlier as an MNA; Khairul Nisa served as an MPA from Mirpurkhas and while Rukhsana Shah is also a former MPA.

From Punjab, the party has nominated only one candidate, Azeem ul Haq Minhas. The party leaders said they would get the support from opposition parties to get Minhas selected from the Punjab Assembly.

However, all eyes are on Yousuf Raza Gilani, whose success at the Senate seat in Islamabad – according to the party sources – will pave way for the PDM to bring a no-confidence motion against PM Imran.

“Islamabad has four seats, if the PDM candidates win then the days of the government are numbered,” a senior PPP leader said, adding that Gilani may also be supported by some PTI lawmakers.

The party has proposed the name of its senior leader Farhatullah Babar as the PDM’s joint candidate from K-P. Babar will get the support of the JUI-F and other opposition parties.

The PML-N, the biggest opposition party, also finalised the names of its candidates for the five Senate seats of Punjab – three general, a technocrat and a woman seat. However, the party surprisingly dropped the names of two party leaders earlier regarded as strong candidates.

According to a statement, Pervaiz Rashid, Mushahudullah Khan and Professor Sajid Mir will contest election on the general seats. Barrister Sadia Abbasi will represent the PML-N on the women’s seat while Advocate Aazam Nazir Tarrar will contest for the technocrat seat in Punjab.

“The K-P chapter of the PML-N will name the final contestants after consultation at the party's provincial level organization,” it added.

Earlier, there were speculations that former Sindh governor Muhammad Zubair and PML-N chairman and incumbent Senate leader of opposition Raja Zafarul Haq would be given party tickets.

Zubair – who also serves as the spokesperson of the PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam – even travelled to Lahore to submit his application for the technocrat’s seat.

However, the party preferred senior lawyer Aazam Nazir Tarrar over him. A leader claimed on condition of anonymity that Zubair was taken into confidence at the last minute before announcing the decision.

Similarly, the decision not to give a ticket to Raja Zafarul Haq came as a surprise for many. PML-N leader Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan said the party took Haq into confidence before announcing the decision.

“All the names are selected purely on merit. Raja Sahib was asked by the party to apply for the ticket, so dropping his name without his consent is out of the question,” Khan said. Interestingly, Haq claimed that he never applied for a party ticket. He said he has been actively serving in the Senate since 1991.

“Given the PML-N’s position post Senate elections as the third biggest party, the PPP is most likely to secure the coveted portfolio leader of opposition. With no position to function on, it was my decision to not become a senator anymore,” he said.

JUI-F spokesperson Aslam Ghauri also issued a statement, announcing the list of the JUI-F’s candidates from the K-P and Balochistan.

“Maulana Ataur Rehman and Tariq Khattak have been issued party tickets for the general seat from the K-P. Zubair Ali and Kamran Murtaza have been nominated on the technocrat seats while Naeema Kishore and Asiya Nasir are the party’s candidates on women’s seats.

“Ranjit Singh and Heman Das have been issued tickets for minority seats. While Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri and Khalil Ahmed Baledi will contest the Senate polls on general seats from Balochistan,”he said.

The PML-Q has nominated Kamil Ali Agha for one Senate seat from Punjab while Aamir Khan, Faisal Sabzwari and Abdul Qadir Khanzada are regarded as strong candidates from the MQM-P.

According to the election schedule issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday, the candidates can submit their nomination papers till today (February 13).

The ECP will issue the preliminary list of the candidates on February 14 and will promulgate the final list on February 23. The polling for the Senate will take place at the National Assembly and all the four provincial assemblies on March 3.


Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ