A high-level meeting of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has discussed potential candidates for the offices of president and three provincial governors, The Express Tribune has learnt.
The meeting took place at Jati Umra mansion in Raiwaind on the edge of Lahore on Sunday. Attendees included Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his brother and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and senior leaders of the party.
During Tuesday’s meeting of the PML-N’s Parliamentary Board in Islamabad, potential candidates for the offices of president and provincial governors were not discussed, sources told The Express Tribune.
On Wednesday however, the Sharif brothers discussed possible names to replace President Asif Ali Zardari whose constitutional term expires on September 8. The development came a day after the Election Commission of Pakistan announced that the presidential election will be held on August 6.
Sources say that apart from Sartaj Aziz, PML-N Chairman Raja Zafarul Haq is also vying for the coveted office. Similarly, Mumtaz Bhutto has also his eyes set on the office of president. Sources say Nawaz offered him the slot of Sindh governor, but Bhutto politely refused saying that he had served as governor 40 years ago during Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s government.
Sources say that a diehard PML-N loyalist is likely to be picked out for the office of president.
According to sources, the PML-N has decided to appoint new governors in three provinces after the presidential election. The party has already given Balochistan’s governorship to the brother of the chief of Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party Mehmood Khan Achakzai.
Sources say that PML-N senior leader Saleem Zia was the frontrunner for the office of governor in Sindh. The names of two other party loyalists – Senator Mushahidullah and Mamnoon Hussain – have been chucked out from the list of potential candidates due to their frail health. Similarly, another former hopeful, Ghous Ali Shah, appears to have fallen from favour following the PML-N’s drubbing in Sindh in the May 11 elections.
Sources say Saleem Zia has earned respect in the PML-N for standing up to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement in Karachi and clinching four seats for his party from the metropolis. However, sources add that the party has not finalised any candidate.
K-P and Punjab
Sources say that Zafar Iqbal Jhagra has emerged as the strongest candidate for the office of governor in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa – however, he has been asked to wait.
In Punjab, the PML-N had almost decided to appoint Minister for Population Welfare Begum Zakia Shahnawaz as governor – but her name was dropped when her brother joined the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. Now, PML-N’s senior leader Mian Saud Majid, who belongs to South Punjab, is a strong contender.
Tickets for by-election
Nawaz Sharif as PML-N’s President presided over Tuesday’s meeting of the party’s Parliamentary Board where tickets were finalised for by-elections. The names decided so far to contest the by-polls include Shafqat Baloch from NA-68, Haji Obaidullah Khan Shadi Khel from NA-71, Rana Mubashar from NA-129, Shahid Bhatti from NA-103 and Mian Manan from NA-83.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2013.
Correction: The article erroneously stated that the meeting was held on Wednesday. The error is regretted.