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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday categorically said that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) would award tickets purely on merit and no “lobbying” for any candidate would be acceptable for becoming a senator.

Chairing a meeting of the 11-member parliamentary board of the PTI for selection of candidates for the forthcoming Senate tickets, the prime minister said that he wanted to put an end to the “corrupt money culture” to buy votes in the Senate elections.

He said that he would personally select the candidates who, he think, could better represent the party as well as the people as the PTI is set to emerge as the largest party in the Senate.

During the meeting, the prime minister was presented a list of candidates aspiring for a Senate ticket which, according to sources, would be finalised after the prime minister’s nod, who is also the head of the parliamentary board for selection of candidates.

The sources within the PTI said at least four special assistants to the prime minister, which include Babar Awan, Firdous Ashiq Awan, Zulfi Bokhari, Shahzad Akbar, Dr Faisal Sultan, Abdul Razzak Dawood, and Shahbaz Gill, are also lobbying for the Senate tickets.

They said that that Senator Shibli Faraz is most likely to get a ticket and return to the House from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa as the prime minister is believed to be quite satisfied with his performance as information minister.

They said that from Sindh, the PTI is likely to get a senator on general seat while technocrat seat would go to the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), and reserved seat for women would be given to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) under a power sharing deal.

Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh is likely to get party ticket from Sindh while Mehmood Moulvi, Hunaid Lakhani and Faraz Lakhani have also emerged as some of the potential candidates for Senate tickets from Sindh.

Besides, Ijaz Chaudhry, Saifullah Niazi and Malik Amin Aslam are top contenders for the Senate tickets from Punjab while Ali Tareen, the son Jehangir Khan Tareen, is also expected to be given Senate ticket.

Kamil Ali Agha’s name had been finalised from Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) while Bukhari’s name is likely to be shortlisted for the seat from Islamabad.

Nilofer Bakhtiar, Nighat Mahmood, and Neelam Irshad are under consideration for the women’s seat.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is also discussing its Senate candidates and party’s leader Maryam Nawaz is heading the decision-making process.

According to sources, Pervez Rashid, Professor Sajid Mir and Raja Zafarul Haq have been short listed for the Senate elections, while former Sindh governor Muhammad Zubair and former Punjab governor Rafiq Rajwana are also hoping to get tickets.

For the women’s category, PML-N leader Ayesha Raza Farooq is trying to get back to Senate, but a final decision is yet to be taken.

According to sources within the PPP, Asif Ali Zardari, the party co-chairman, is considering fielding a mix of new and old faces.

Sherry Rehman and Farooq Naek have emerged as the most potential candidates to make it to Senate once again.

The sources said that Salim Mandviwala who is also equally keen to get a ticket has been told not to apply for the ticket as he would be accommodated in Sindh provincial government, like Senator Saeed Ghani.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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