LAHORE: Contrary to the impression that Lahore gets more than its due in every sector during the PML-N rule, the political capital of the country is rather ignored when it comes to political representation of the town, particularly in Senate.
The (united) Muslim League had been fielding a couple of nominees from Lahore. Like former Senate chairman Waseem Sajjad, ex-federal information minister Mushahid Husain Sayed, incumbent finance minister Ishaq Dar and Ehtesab Bureau-fame Saifur Rehman belonged to Lahore and had been elected to the upper house of the parliament on the party ticket during the 1990s.
This sporadic representation came to an end when the Chaudhrys of Gujrat, the strongest personalities in the party after the Sharifs, “hijacked” the PML during Musharraf regime and Nawaz loyalists formed the N faction of the League in the 2002 polls.
In the new party, the Sharifs enjoyed a complete control and none was there to challenge them, particularly after their return to homeland from exile in 2007.
Since 2002, barring Ishaq Dar, no other Lahori has been nominated for the Senate from general seats by the PML-N, even though party loyalists from outside Punjab like Mushahidullah Khan have been accommodated from the province’s quota.
In 2009 Senate polls, the party awarded tickets to Raja Zafarul Haq, Syed Zafar Alishah, Pervaiz Rashid (all three belonging to Rawalpindi), and Mushahidullah Khan (from Karachi).
Prof Sajid Mir (MJAH president from Sialkot) was awarded ticket on technocrat’s seat by the PML-N.
In 2012 polls, M Hamza (Toba Tek Singh), Zafarullah Khan Dhandla (Bhakkar), Malik Rafique Rajwana (Multan), Sirdar Zulfikar Ali Khan Khosa (Dera Ghazi Khan) made it through to the upper house on general seats from the PML-N platform.
Chaudhry Mohammad Jaffar Iqbal (from Rahim Yar Khan) was elected as senator in by-polls after a seat fell vacant with the death of PPP member Salahuddin Dogar in January 2013.
Of them, Raja Zafarul Haq, Pervaiz Rashid, Zafar Alishah, Mushahidullah Khan and Jaffar Iqbal of the PML-N while Chaudhry Shujat of the PML-Q and Jehangir Badr of the PPP are retiring from their Senate seats from Punjab’s quota in March.
The PML-N is likely to win all these Punjab seats since it enjoys more than two-thirds majority in the provincial house, the electoral college for the Senate polls, especially if the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf sticks to its stance of boycotting the elections in all provinces except in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The PTI has 29 members in the Punjab Assembly and with the help of other opposition parties it may secure one seat in the upper house.
It will be interesting to see if the Sharifs continue to ignore their stronghold and give most of the representation to Rawalpindi division like in the past while making nominations for the Senate polls due in March.
Another interesting factor to watch will be whether new entrants to the party, particularly those who remained with former army ruler Pervez Musharraf, would be accommodated or not.
As per the application paper for getting PML-N ticket available on the party’s website, the applicants are to describe their services for the cause of restoration of democracy.
People like Gen Abdul Qayyum (retired) and former senator Tariq Azeem who had been terming the Charter of Democracy (CoD), signed by slain PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto and PML-N president Nawaz Sharif back in 2006 for a joint struggle against Musharraf regime, as charter of hypocrisy will find themselves in an awkward position while filling this column of the application.
Published in Dawn, January 31st, 2015