LAHORE / KARACHI: All seven candidates vying for the upper house of parliament on general seats from Punjab were elected unopposed following the withdrawal of nominations by five other candidates, apparently following a behind-the-scenes understanding among the country’s three major parties — the PML-N, PPP and PTI.

The development came on Wednesday, which was the last day for the withdrawal of nomination papers by Senate candidates for the elections scheduled to be held on April 2.

Four of those elected unopposed belong to the ruling PML-N, while two hail from PTI-Sunni Ittehad Council alliance. Besides, Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi, who had filed the papers as an independent candidate with PML-N and PPP backing, was also returned unopposed.

The PML-N nominees were Federal Minister Ahad Cheema, Pervaiz Rashid, Nasir Mehmood and Talal Chaudhry, whereas Majlis Wahdat Muslimeen chief Raja Nasir Abbas and PTI stalwart Hamid Khan have been elected unopposed with the backing of the PTI.

PTI stalwart, MWM chief elected without contest following ‘understanding’

As many as 16 aspirants had initially filed nominations for seven general seats in Punjab. Of them, four were rejected, while Musadik Malik of the PML-N and Waleed Iqbal, Dr Shahzad Waseem, Omar Sarfaraz Cheema and Ijaz Minhas of the PTI withdrew their papers on Wednesday.

When contacted, PTI’s information secretary Rauf Hasan confirmed to Dawn the behind-the-scene negotiations among the parties. He said the PPP and the PML-N had approached the PTI on the issue and Imran Khan had authorised a senior party leader to hold talks. However, the spokesperson refused to divulge who the negotiator was, and expressed ignorance about the outcome of the talks.

But since PTI candidates are still in the race for reserved seats for technocrats, women and minorities, it shows that whatever understanding was reached was limited to general seats.

Three candidates will now contest for two technocrat seats after the withdrawal of papers by Mustafa Ramday. The three-way contest will feature Finance Minister Mohammad Aurangzeb and Musadik Malik of the PML-N and Dr Yasmin Rashid of the PTI.

PPP’s Faiza Ahmed, Anusha Rahman, PML-N’s Bushra Anjum and PTI’s Sanam Javed are in the race for the two women’s seats, while Khalil Tahir of PML-N and Asif Ashiq of PTI are vying for the minority seat.

Sindh

Following the withdrawal of papers by 14 candidates, 21 candidates are vying for 12 Senate seats from Sindh.

Of the aspirants, 12 have submitted party tickets and nine others are running as independents.

According to a list issued by the election commissioner, the candidates on the general seats are Faisal Vawda, Amir Chishti, Ashraf Jatoi, Syed Mansoor Ahsan, Jeean Khan Sarfaraz Rajpar, Nadeem Bhutto, Dost Ali Jessar, Abdul Wahab, Ali Tahir, Mir Raja Jakarani, Kazim Ali Shah and Shahbaz Zaheer.

Zamir Hussain Ghumro, Sarmad Ali, Manzoor Bhutta and Abdul Wahab are contesting for two seats reserved for technocrats/Ulema. Quratul Ain Marri, Rubina Qaimkhani and Mehjabeen Riaz are in the run for two women’s seats, while Poonjo and Bhagwan Das are vying for the only non-Muslim seat.

The 14 candidates who withdrew their papers on the last day are Najeeb Haroon, Rauf Siddiqui, Mukhtiar Ahmed Damrah Aajiz, Shabbir Qaimkhani, Abu Bakar, Ghanwer Ali Khan Isran, Nighat Mirza, Humayun Sultan and Javed Ahmed (general seats); Karim Ahmed Khawaja for the technocrat seat; Yasmin Dadbhoy, Musarrat Nazir and Sabina Perveen on women’s seats and Sadhumal Surendar Valasai for a non-Muslim seat.

Interestingly, Mr Vawda filed his nomination papers as an independent candidate and two MQM-P lawmakers had proposed and seconded his candidature.

Balochistan

As many as 13 candidates will contest for 11 Senate seats from Balochistan after the withdrawal of 20 candidates on Wednesday.

The coalition partners of the Balochistan government, including PPP, PML-N and Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) had finalised a list of 11 candidates for unopposed election.

According to the final list, there are eight candidates vying for seven general seats from the province: Saydal Nasar and Agha Shahzeb Durrani of the PML-N, Sardar Umar Gorgage of the PPP, Ejaz Ahmed and Jan Muhammad Buledi of the National Party, Aimal Wali Khan of the ANP, Ahmed Khan Khilji of the JUI-F and former caretaker prime minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar (independent).

On two technocrat seats, there are three candidates: Bilal Khan Mandokhail (PPP), Maulana Abdul Wasey (JUI-F) and Masleh-ud-Din (PML-N). However, after the withdrawal of papers by five candidates on two women seats, Rahat Faiq Jamali of the PML-N and Husana Bibi of the PPP are expected to be elected unopposed.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

As many as six aspirants from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Wednesday withdrew their candidature from Senate elections..

Those who withdrew their papers include Taj Afridi, Qazi Anwar, Ms Shazia, Qezar Khan, Fida Muhammad and Fazal Hanan.

According to the final list of the candidates, there are 16 candidates vying for seven general seats from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The list contains the name of former senator Talha Mehmood, who announced he was joining the PPP after quitting the JUI-F just a day earlier.

PPP information secretary Faisal Karim Kundi in a statement on Wednesday stated that party’s nominees Fida Muhammad Khan and Qaizar Khan Miankhel had withdrawn from the Senate elections “for the sake of party’s interests on the directions of the PPP leadership.”

Other candidates on the general seats from KP are Attaul Haq of the JUI-F and Niaz Ahmed of the PML-N, besides 13 independents, mostly those nominated by the PTI.

Prominent among them are Azam Swati, Faisal Javed Khan, Murad Saeed, former Senate deputy chairman Mirza Muhammad Afridi, Noorul Haq Qadri, Khurram Zeeshan, Azhar Mashwani and Dilawar Khan.

Islamabad

The returning officer for the Senate election on the two seats from Islamabad on Wednesday revealed the final list of four candidates.

Farzand Hussain Shah of the SIC and Rana Mehmoodul Hassan of the PPP are the candidates for the general seat whereas Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar of the PML-N and Raja Ansar Mehmood of the SIC are vying for the technocrat seat from the federal capital.

Ikram Junaidi in Islamabad and Saleem Shahid in Quetta also contributed to the report

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2024

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