LAHORE: The PML-N’s final bet for the Punjab Senate elections is a conglomerate of loyalty, competence and money.
The names for general seats are Farooq Khan from Faisalabad, Asif Kirmani, Rana Maqbool, Haroon Akhtar, PML-N United States President Khalid Shaheen Butt, Zubair Gul and Dr Musadik Malik as the covering candidate.
For the women’s seats, Nuzhat Sadiq Amir and Sadia Abbasi have been nominated. For the technocrat seats, MNA from DG Khan and sitting Minister for Communication Hafiz Abdul Kareem and former federal finance minister Ishaq Dar has been pitched, while Naseer Bhutta, Shakeel Awan and Irfan Daha are their covering candidates. These names were finalised at a meeting held on Wednesday evening with Hamza Shehbaz in the chair.
Nuzhat Sadiq Amir currently is a Senate member since March 2012. She is considered as one of the most affluent senators to hold this office. Previously, she has been a Member of the National Assembly from 2008 to 2012. She has served on the Drafting Committee of Climate Change, Defence Production, Federal Education and Professional Training and Senate Finance Committee. She has also held the position as the chairperson of Senate Library Committee as well as the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Sadia Khaqan Abbasi has been a Senate member from March 2003 to February 2009. She is the sister of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. In February 2009, she quit PML-N and resigned from her Senate seat shortly before the expiry of her term in the Senate after PML-N refused to issue her ticket for the March 2009 elections. In December 2011, she joined the PTI but left it in late 2013. There was never a formal rejoining of PML-N but this senate candidature speaks for itself.
Ishaq Dar started his political career in the 1993 by-election on the seat vacated by Nawaz Sharif. In 1997, he was pitched by the PML-N from the then NA-97 and emerged victorious after defeating PPP’s Salman Taseer. In case of any issues with the candidature of Dar, his son Ali Dar is likely to run for the seat.
Musadik Malik is currently special assistant to the prime minister and serves as the premier’s adviser on energy. He is the architect of Pakistan’s recently developed power policy and strategy, and was the federal minister for water and power in the last caretaker government. He is an adjunct professor at the National School of Public Policy in Lahore. He has a massive profile as a professional both in national and international domain.
Musadik finished his post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Illinois – College of Medicine - in Health Economics and Medical Decision Making. He obtained PhD and MS in Healthcare Administration and Policy; and an MBA from the University of Illinois. He has taught and supported undergraduate and graduate courses in public policy and management. He has widely presented his policy frameworks and recommendations at international conferences and in front of senate and cabinet members across various countries.
Farooq Khan – former senator and an industrialist from Faisalabad – is a financial powerhouse. While there are those in the party who believe that Zubair Gull is terribly under-qualified academically to hold this position, at the same time they acknowledge his undeniable resoluteness for standing by the party and party head during the worst times. Maybe that is why when his appointment as Commissioner Overseas Pakistanis faced several bureaucratic hitches, the prime minister personally intervened to give him the office.
Khalid Shaheen Butt, the United States PML-N president, has served as vice chairperson Overseas Pakistanis Commission Punjab. Asif Kirmani was heading the PML-N Professional Wing Punjab while the Sharifs were in exile. He is the son of former veteran Muslim League loyalist Ahmed Saeed Kirmani.
Former IGP Rana Maqbool is a close associate of Sharifs. He is also among those who were detained in wake of October 12 1999 coup by Musharraf. He is also infamously known for torturing PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari.
Haroon Akhtar is a son of former ISI DG Gen Akhtar Abdur Rahman who lost his life in the August 17 plane crash along with Ziaul Haq. He is the brother of Humayun Akhtar Khan. He was elected for the first time in 1993 as MPA from the then PP-119 by defeating PPP’s Qasim Zia. He was also elected in 2002 as MPA but was de-seated by the tribunal. He has served as a senator as well.
Hafiz Abdul Kareem has been serving as minister for communications since August 2017. He was defeated by Farooq Leghari in the 2008 general elections but won in 2013. He has most probably been pitched for the Senate because the PML-N plans to field Amjad Khosa from NA 171 against Zulfiqar Ali Khosa.
Naseer Bhutta has served as the head of PML-N Lawyers Forum for a while now. He won his first seat in the National Assembly by defeating Abdul Aleem Khan in 2008 from NA 127. Shakeel Awan, once a political worker and campaigner of Sheikh Rashid, rose to fame when he defeated Sheikh Rashid in a by-poll held in Rawalpindi. He suffered defeat in 2013 at the hands of Sheikh Rashid.
Kamran Michael hails from northern Lahore, and is the son of former councillor ML Michael. Kamran started his political career as a councillor after being elected from UC 23 in 2001. He was elected MPA on a seat reserved for Minorities in 2002. In 2008, he was elected on the reserved seat again and became first non-Muslim finance minister to present the provincial budget. He has served as senator since 2012.