ISLAMABAD: The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Friday issued a list of its 15 candidates for the coming Senate elections, saying two names from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and two from Punjab would be announced later.

Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry made public the names of the candidates of his party through a series of tweets. He revealed 15 nominated candidates while the decision of two contestants from KP and as many from Punjab is yet to be announced.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) also formally issued lists of their candidates.

“The list of candidates I have issued is official,” Fawad Chaudhry told Dawn, adding that he was authorised to issue the list.

Fawad says more names to be announced later

According to him, the PTI candidates for the Senate elections include: Finance Minister Dr Hafeez Shaikh (from Islamabad), Fauzia Arshad (Islamabad), Federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda (Sindh), Saifullah Niazi (Punjab), Dr Zarqa (Punjab), Barrister Ali Zafar (Punjab), Abdul Qadir (Balochistan), Shibli Faraz (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Mohsin Azeez (KP), Dost Mohammad (KP), Sania Nishtar (KP), Farzana (KP), Zeeshan Khanzada (KP), Saifullah Abro (as technocrat) and Gurmaid Singh (for the seat reserved for minorities).

On the other hand, some of the aspirants for the Senate seats who could not get PTI nomination are: Special Assistant to the PM Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari (Zulfi Bukhari), advisers to the PM Dr Babar Awan, Abdul Razak Dawood and Shahzad Akbar and SAPM Dr Shahbaz Gill.

A source in the ruling party said some of the party heavyweights could not get the party ticket as Prime Minister Khan had decided that those who were already holding significant positions would not be given the party’s consent for contesting the Senate polls.

In Punjab, two out of four probables to be nominated are: Aun Abbas Bappi, Zaheer Abbas Khokhar, Ijaz Chaudhry and Umar Cheema.

Similarly, In KP four names are being considered out of whom two will be nominated. They are Hameed ul Haq, Dr Humayun, Dil Roze Khan and Najeeh Ullah.

Some media reports said there was a rift within the PTI over nomination of Faisal Vawda and Abdul Qadir. However, Fawad Chaudhry said Mr Qadir was a joint candidate of the PTI and the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) as both parties had decided to support each other in Balochistan and KP. “In KP, the BAP will support PTI candidates,” he added.

An insider said Abdul Qadir, son of Mohammad Ayub, was a native of Balochistan.

Sources said Faisal Vawda, who has been facing a case of dual nationality before the Election Commission of Pakistan for not mentioning his dual nationality at the time of general election 2018, will leave his National Assembly seat, once he is elected as senator.

The nomination of Hafeez Shaikh is also quite significant. The main reason behind his nomination for the polls is a constitutional clause under which the prime minister can appoint anyone as a minister but he has to be elected as a member of the parliament within six months.

Initially, Mr Shaikh was appointed as the PM’s adviser but due to a verdict of Islamabad High Court that no adviser or SAPM could preside over a meeting of any government body, the government made him a federal minister. Thus he must be elected to the Senate this time to continue as the finance minister after June.

The sources said Sania Nishtar would contest Senate polls from KP as the PTI could not find any other woman suitable for the Senate seat from there. Ms Nishtar, who is part of the PM’s cabinet as a special assistant, is also not a member of the parliament and therefore is ineligible to hold the position of a minister.

PML candidates

PML-N information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb announced the names of the party’s five candidates for the Senate elections through a tweet.

In what surprised many, the name of leader of the opposition in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq is missing from the list.

When contacted, Mr Haq told Dawn that he was no more interested in becoming part of the Senate again.

He said he had remained leader of the house and was currently leader of the opposition. He said after the coming elections the PML-N’s numerical strength in the house would shrink and it would come at third position after the PTI and the PPP. The leader of the house will continue to be from the PTI and the leader of the opposition will come from the PPP.

Mr Haq said he did not want to sit in the house as a common senator and therefore had decided not to apply for a ticket this time.

The list of the PML-N nominees against the general seats includes the name of PML-N parliamentary leader in the house Mushahidullah, Pervaiz Rasheed and Professor Sajid Mir - all of whom are among the 52 outgoing senators whose six-year term will expire on March 11.

Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s sister Barrister Saadia Abbasi is a nominee for a reserved seat for women and Advocate Azam Nazir Tarar for a reserved seat for technocrats.

Ms Aurangzeb’s tweet said the PML-N’s KP chapter will later nominate the party’s candidates for the Senate from the province.

PPP aspirants

The PPP has picked three out of its eight retiring senators for the party ticket for the elections. They include PPP parliamentary leader in the house Sherry Rehman, Deputy Chairman of the Senate Saleem Mandviwala and former chairman Farooq H. Naek.

Prominent among the other retiring senators from the PPP are Sassui Palijo and Islamuddin Sheikh.

Former senator Taj Haider is also among the nominees. Former senator Farhatullah Babar and former prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani are amongst the proposed joint candidates of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) from KP and Islamabad, respectively.

Sources in the PPP said Sassui Palijo did not apply for a ticket as she was interested in provincial politics. She tried to obtain a ticket for her brother, but to no avail.

Published in Dawn, February 13th, 2021

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