ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) Parliamentary Board completed interview process of the candidates and would now shortlist the candidates in the next day or so and then present the list to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif with the comments of the board members for final decision.

On Thursday evening the board meeting was held under the chair of party chairman Raja Zafarul Haq and the candidates from Balochistan, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, federal capital and FATA appeared before the board and presented their case to secure the party ticket for Senate elections.

The board also permitted some 11 candidates from Punjab to appear for interview who could not turn up Wednesday, the day fixed for their interviews.

Some 76 candidates appeared in all for interview before the 14-member parliamentary board including 16 candidates for the seats to be vacated from the federal capital, 34 from Balochistan, a sole candidate from Sindh while 10 candidates from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, five from FATA region while some 11 candidates from Punjab who could not come on Wednesday also appeared before the board to present their case.

Against the general seat from the federal capital some heavyweights like advisor to PM on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Special Assistant to PM Irfan Siddiqui, veteran party leader Syed Zafar Ali Shah, Siddiqul Farooq, Ashraf Gujar and some other candidates appeared before the board.

From Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, Pir Sabir Shah and Lt Gen Sallahuddin Tirmizi are among the forerunners.

From Balochistan Sardar Yaqoob Khan Nasir, Syed Jamal Shah Kakar, Namatullah Zahri and a few other heavyweights are vying for the party tickets.

The sole candidate from Sindh, Raheela Magsi has also appeared before the board. From Sindh the party stand remotest chance to clinch any seat. However, the party’s MPs could help the other opposition parties in winning some seat.

The party would surely win all the 11 seats from the province so that is the reason that over 90 party leaders including some heavyweight have applied for the ticket, a party leader sharing his views on upcoming Senate elections said.

In all some 170 applications were received with maximum applicants 95 from Punjab against 11 seats to be vacated from the province including seven general and two each reserved for women, and technocrats and Ulema.

Interestingly, almost half the members of the Parliamentary Board scrutinizing the particulars of the applicants are among the aspirants for the party ticket for the upcoming Senate elections.

The 14-member board under the head of Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif comprises Raja Zafarul Haq, Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, Pervaiz Rashid, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan, Shehbaz Sharif, Pir Sabir Shah, Ismail Rahu, Sardar Sanaullah Zehri, Sardar Yakoob Khan Nasir, Dr Asif Kirmani and Nuzhat Sadiq. Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar is the convener of the board.

Prominent among those who have applied for the Senate elections from Punjab included Raja Zafarul Haq, Pervaiz Rasheed, Mushahid Ullah Khan, Ch Jaffar Iqbal, Ghulam Dastagir Khan, Syed Mohammad Medhi, Lt Gen (Retd) Abdul Qayyum, and Asif Ali Malik.

Sources in the party informed The Nation that as most of the retiring senators of the party are all heavyweights, so most of them would likely secure the party tickets to get re-elected to the Upper House of the Parliament.

From Punjab, PML-N chairman Raja Zafarul Haq, Federal Minister for Information Pervaiz Rashid, Federal Minister Mushahidullah Khan, Ch Jaffar Iqbal, Prof Sajid Mir, chief of Jamaat-i-Ahl-e-Hadees, and Najma Hameed would be retiring in March and would be re-given the party tickets.

Similarly the retiring party senator from Balochistan Sardar Yaqoob Khan Nasir would be strong contender to re-get the party ticket for another term for Upper House.

From one of the slot to be vacated from the federal capital, Advisor to Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz would be given party ticket while for the woman seat to be vacated following the retirement of Saeeda Iqbal, PML-N would be looking for a suitable candidate from among around a dozen aspirants.

The party would be awarding party ticket to Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, secretary general of the party, against the sure-fire seat from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa while the party could even secure another seat in alliance with its coalition partners including JUI-F from the province for which there is a long queue of aspirants including heavyweights like Lt Gen (Retd) Sallahuddin and Pir Sabir Shah.