The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz finalised candidates for seven seats in the Senate, on Friday.
The candidates include four for general seats – Sardar Zulfiqar Khan Khosa, Zafar Dhandla from Bhakkar, M Hamza from Toba Tek Singh and Rafique Rijwana; Ishaq Dar for the technocrat seat, Begum Nuzhat Sadiq for the women’s seat and Provincial Minister for Finance and Human Rights Kamran Michael for the minority seat.
PML-N’s senior leader Ghulam Dastgeer Khan and former bureaucrat Saeed Mehdi have been asked to prepare as covering candidates.
The party has awarded tickets to disgruntled members in order to keep them from breaking from the party.
The Dhandhla family was about to join the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, but has now accepted the Senate seat.
Senior leader M Hamza was also about to join the PTI in Toba Tek Singh when his opponent Bilal Warraich joined the PML-N.
It was reported earlier that the PML-N leadership had been sending text messages to its members restraining them from suggesting anyone for Senate candidature, sources in the party told The Express Tribune.
“Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has called an immediate meeting of all members of PA on Monday, in which he will take them into confidence over the candidates for Senate election,” the sources added.
In Punjab there will be a total of 12 seats up for grabs – seven general, two each reserved for technocrats and women, and one for a non-Muslim. Under the deal reached between major political parties for seats distribution, PML-N will get a total of 7 seats including 4 general seats, one technocrat, one women’s and one non-Muslim seat. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) will get a total of 4 seats and Pakistan Muslim League Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q) will get only one general seat.
It is pertinent to mention that the division of seats, though unopposed, had occurred in Punjab in the 2006 and 2009 Senate elections as well. In 2009, PML-N nominated almost all its members from their Rawalpindi division.
“Members in the Punjab often have not exercised their right to cast votes to decide who shall represent Punjab in the Senate,” said PML-N MPA Javed Ahmad.
Meanwhile, PML-Q’s 47-member dissident faction called Unification Bloc seems to be determined to put forward its candidate or negotiate a seat from PML-N. According to official party information, two MPAs have been interviewed by PML-N’s interview committee in Islamabad.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th, 2012.