ISLAMABAD - The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leadership on Tuesday took up credentials of candidates for awarding them party tickets for upcoming Senate elections scheduled for March 3.

The meeting was first scheduled at the Punjab House but later it was shifted to the residence of Chaudhry Munir in a posh sector of Islamabad, as according to some party insiders, the leadership feared bugging of the meeting at the Punjab House.

According to Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, the formal announcement of the party candidates for the Senate elections would be made today (Wednesday) by party chief Nawaz Sharif.

Sources in the party said that as former finance minister Ishaq Dar, who is also a fugitive of the NAB court, would likely be given a party ticket for the Senate elections as Sharif was adamant to get him re-elected in the Upper House of the Parliament despite legal hiccups.

According to them, the election of a person on Senate seat, who is a fugitive, could create problems for them in the future and the court could strike it down if someone takes the matter to the court.

But party insiders said that as Sharif was on the confrontation course with the judiciary so such moves would be seen in line with the narrative being built by him and his coteries.

Some feeble voices came against awarding party ticket to Dar on technical grounds as he has to return back to take the oath of the office after being elected as a senator against a technocrats’ seat.

Sources said that the party leadership had come up with strong opposition to award a party ticket to Mushahid Hussain Syed, who had recently joined the party on the condition of awarding him party ticket for the Upper House from the federal capital.

After the meeting, in a brief media, Asif said that the formal announcement of party candidates for upcoming Senate elections would be made today (Wednesday) but he did not speak on the strong opposition of senior party leaders against awarding ticket to Mushahid Hussain.

The sources said that former premier Sharif said that the decision on awarding party tickets to candidates from Punjab would be finalised in consultation with the Punjab chief minister who has been given charge of managing these elections in the province.

A senior party leader who attended the meeting tod The Nation that the main discussion revolved around controlling the horse-trading and keeping the annoyed party MPs intact.

The party leadership lashed out at PPPP President Asif Ali Zardari for openly trading money for changing the loyalties of the MPs of other parties. In this connection, a task was assigned to many senior party leaders to keep them in the loop and evolve a strategy to contain the chances of horse-trading.

In this connection, the party would also remain engaged with other stakeholders mainly in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan so that the chances of horse-trading could be contained to a minimum level if not fully controlled.

The PML-N had recently faced mass defection of the party MPs in Balochistan and, as a result, the chief minister of the province was ousted and a five-member party MPA Abdul Qadoos Bizenjo was installed as chief minister of the province.

Meanwhile, one of the coalition partners of PML-N in Balochistan, PkMAP chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai also met with Nawaz Sharif at the Punjab House and discussed the upcoming Senate elections with him. He assured to stand by him but at the same time advised him to bring the dissidents back in the PML-N fold in Balochistan for getting better results in the Senate elections and next general election.

Keeping in view the numerical strength of the ruling PML-N and its allies in the National Assembly, the electoral college of Senate elections from the federal capital, if Mushahid Hussain Syed awarded a party ticket, which is most likely, would easily win the seat despite strong opposition against him in the party ranks.

But such a decision would have far-reaching damaging effects on the party, in the long run, a senior party leader opposed to his induction and awarding of the ticket, commented.