LAHORE - Three major political parties, the PPP, PML-N and PML-Q have finalised their Senate candidates on different categories of seats from Punjab with some nominations coming as a great surprise for many. 

In a surprising move, the PPP has awarded tickets to two diehard party workers ignoring some candidates who had their affiliation with President Asif Ali Zardari’s close aides.

The awarding of Senate ticket to Aslam Gill, a diehard party worker who also served as party’s Lahore President in the 1990s, has surprised many in the party.

The nomination of Khalida Qureshi, a former MNA from DG Khan and having long association with the party, is something nobody was expecting.

She is wife of a sitting PPP MNA, Mohsin Qureshi, who is in coma for the last over three years. Khalida Qureshi will contest against a seat reserved for women which was earlier likely to go to Shabina Riaz Sheikh.

With the entry of Aslam Gill, Dr. Basit Riaz Sheikh, son of Ahmad Riaz Sheikh is also out of the race. Both Aslam Gill and Khalida Qureshi belong to middle class and are diehard political workers having years-long association with the party.

PPP circles have hailed the decision of awarding Senate tickets to party workers describing it a matter of happiness for old PPP guards who had been giving vent to their anger over party policies in the past.  Aslam Gill is likely to contest against a general seat, and in that case, one of the two other ticket holders, Aitzaz Ahsan and Babar Awan, will have to file nomination papers against a technocrat seat. 

Similarly, the PML-N leadership has also come up with some surprises to party men with the nomination of two candidates little known in political circles. They are Zafarullah Dhandla from Bhakkar and Rafiq Rajwana from Multan. Both would be contesting against general seats. Other PML-N candidates who would have been awarded tickets against general seats include Sardar Zulfiqar Khosa and M Hamza.

Ishaq Dar has been given ticket against a seat reserved for technocrats, whereas Nuzhat Aamer Sadiq would be contesting against a Senate seat reserved for women. Punjab Finance Minister, Kamran Michael will be the candidate on the minority seat.

The PML-Q has nominated only one candidate, Kamil Ali Agha, from Punjab as a result of seat adjustment with the PPP.

Negotiations among the parties are underway to make the upcoming Senate polls end up unopposed, though there is some resentment within the parties over the move.