LAHORE - The recent selection of PPP Senate candidates has raised many an eyebrow, as senior party men have held the opinion that some candidates have been picked up on the basis of their personal affiliation with party's top leadership, rather than merit, in clear departure from the set party criterion. Many have objected to the candidature of Sughra Imam from Punjab and two candidates from NWFP, Senator Gulzar Ahmad and his son Senator Waqar Ahmad Khan, doubting their credentials in respect of party affiliation. Gulzar's another son, Ammar Ahmad Khan is also a Senator, while Waqar Ahmad is holding a portfolio in PM Gilani's Cabinet. He is Federal Minister for Investment. Previously a die-hard PPP worker, Gulzar had left the PPP long ago and found a new friend in the form of Pervez Musharraf in the last eight years. It merits mentioning here that Farhatullah Babar, one of close aides of late Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, and presently serving as spokesperson to President Asif Ali Zardari has been denied Senate ticket from NWFP reportedly to accommodate Gulzar family. Sardar Ali Khan, another candidate from Frontier province is stated to be a close aide of Asif Ali Zardari, though he is less known in party circles. Sughra Imam, daughter of Abida Hussain, and previously an NRB consultant, contested 2002 general election on PML-Q ticket, and was then inducted into the provincial Cabinet headed by Ch Pervaiz Elahi, though she resigned later over a brawl with senior bureaucrats. Her mother, Abida Hussain, a veteran politician from Jhang, herself joined the PPP a few years back after so many political somersaults under a 'package deal' along with her spouse Fakhar Iman and latter's brother Faisal Imam. Sughra could not join PPP at that time, as she was member Punjab Assembly elected on PML-Q ticket. Another Senate candidate from Punjab, Salahuddin Dogar, a former Mayor of Multan, is a nominee of PM Yousuf Raza Gilani. He lost 2008 general election against Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, but his son, Amer Dogar managed to make it to Punjab Assembly. Apart from the said names, some key contestants, including party Secretary General Jehangir Badr, don't even fulfil the basic criteria set by the party for selection of Senate candidates. The selection of Rehman Malik and Farooq H Naik is also being questioned on this ground. According to the criterion laid down for award of Senate ticket, a prospective Senate candidate should fulfil the following conditions: a) should be having basic party membership for the last 10 years, b) should not have violated party discipline during the period, c) should not have lost MNA election even once, and, d) should have worked at the highest forum in the party. Senior PPP leaders told The Nation on Friday that this criteria was set by late Benazir Bhutto during her life time, and which could only be relaxed by majority vote in a joint sitting of party's Central Executive Committee and the Federal Council. A senior party leader pointed out that no such meeting took place this time around before awarding tickets to the candidates in relaxation of party policy. This has irked not only the party hopefuls who have been ignored in the final selection, there is also a general resentment among party ranks and files against the decision. Jehangir Badr has lost four MNA elections. He lost in 1990, 1993, 2002 and of late in 2008 while contesting from Lahore. He has also lost two Punjab Assembly elections as well. If party rules are to be followed, Badr does not qualify to contest, say party men who are perturbed over violation of the party rules. Similarly, Rehman Malik does not fulfil the condition of being member of the PPP for 10 years despite being a close aide of Benazir Bhutto during her exile. Interestingly, Federal Minister for Law, Senator Farooq H Naik, another close associate of Benazir Bhutto and President Zardari, was earlier given Senate ticket in relaxation of party policy. He is going to retire as Senator in March this year, but even till date, he doesn't meet the condition of having 10 years party membership, though, otherwise, his association with PPP's top leadership is longer than the said period. Mr Naik is contesting again to continue as Law Minister. It is a general consensus among PPP men that unlike Punjab and NWFP, where departure from party rules has been made while awarding Senate tickets, selection of candidates in Sindh has been mainly done on merit, giving preference to die-hard PPP workers. Among party candidates from this province, Gul Muhammad Lot, is an old PPP guard from Tharparkar, who faced the wrath of former Sindh Chief Minister, Arbab Ghulam Rahim who also belongs to the same district. He also underwent forced exile for some period for his affiliation with the PPP. Another candidate, Maula Bakhsh Chandio is an intellectual and incharge Study Circle of PPP in Hyderabad. Dr. Khatmul Jewan is also a die-hard party worker from Tharparkar. He is a Hindu by faith. Syed Faisal Raza Abdi is an old student activist having years long association with PSF. Islamuddin Sheikh, formerly a man of Pir of Pagaro, is however an exception to the rule. He has been given ticket on the basis of his friendship with President Zardari with whom he spent some time in Karachi jail. Almas Perveen is an old party worker from Lyari. In Balochistan also, the selection has been made on merit, with the minor complaint that persons mainly belonging to Raisani group have been obliged.