ISLAMABAD: With two days remaining for submission of nomination papers for the presidential election, the PML-N is reported to have narrowed down the list to three candidates.
Senior PML-N leaders told Dawn that former governor of Sindh and party loyalist Mamnoon Hussain was the front-runner followed by PM’s adviser on foreign affairs and national security Sartaj Aziz and former chief justice of Pakistan Justice Saeed-uz-Zaman Siddiqui.
July 24 is the last date for submission of nomination papers in the four provincial capitals and in Islamabad. The polling will be held on August 6.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called Mamnoon Hussain on Monday and informed him that the party was considering his candidature. Mr Hussain confirmed to Dawn that the prime minister had discussed with him his possible nomination as a candidate of the ruling party.
A veteran Muslim Leaguer, Mr Hussain is a graduate of the Institute of Business Administration, Karachi. He remained loyal to the PML-N leadership during the rule of Gen Pervez Musharraf, but later kept a low profile.
Mr Hussain said that soon after he had left the university in the late 60s he was elected joint secretary of the Muslim League in Sindh.
Although Mr Hussain remained associated with the party in the 70s and 80s, he was deeply involved in his textile business.
In 1993, he came closer to the party leadership when Mr Sharif was contesting his removal from the prime minister’s office by then president Ghulam Ishaq.
“Then onward, I remained an active member of the party and worked in various positions, including as acting president of the PML-N Sindh for some time. At the moment, I am senior vice president of the party, the position which obviously I will resign if chosen by the party to run for the post of president,” Mr Hussain said. Before serving as the governor of Sindh from June to October 1999 when the PML-N was in power, he worked as adviser to then chief minister Liaquat Jatoi.
When pressed, Mr Hussain said: “By tomorrow evening, it will be clear who is going to be the PML-N’s nominee. I have only been told that the party leadership is considering my name also.”
But his presence in Islamabad indicates that the party has made up its mind to nominate him as its candidate.
According to a PML-N leader, Mr Hussain will surely win the party’s nomination. Moreover, he said, since Mr Hussain belonged to Sindh his party could counter the PPP’s propaganda that the PML-N was accommodating only Punjabi politicians at the centre.
When approached, Justice Saeed-uz-Zaman Saddiqui told Dawn that nobody from the ruling party had contacted him so far. He was PML-N candidate in the 2008 presidential election.
Sartaj Aziz could not be contacted for his comment.