LAHORE - At least eight hopefuls belonging to Pakistan Peoples Party are eyeing on Punjab governorship, but to their utter dismay, the party high command seems to be least interested at the moment to undertake such a venture, probably to avoid confrontation with the presidency at the very outset. Party sources confirmed on Tuesday that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani did not seem to be in a mood to ask President Musharraf to consider his nominee for the coveted slot for the said reason. Also the relevant constitutional provision, which gives president an upper hand vis-a-vis the PM with regard to appointment of governors, is also holding the new PM from taking such a step. According to the Constitution, as it stands now after so many mutilations made in it during the past eight years, all provincial governors have to be appointed by the president "in consultation" with the prime minister; whereas, in its original form, though president had the power to appoint governors, but "on the advice" of prime minister. Now, the latter is not in a position to send an "advice" to the president for appointment of governor of his choice. He (PM) could only verbally request him (president) to consider his nominee, but he would not like to do so at the moment given the sensitivity of the circumstances. Though nobody is hot favourite at this stage, yet certain names including Zaka Ashraf, Nawab Salahuddin Abbasi, Senator Latif Khosa, Senator Babar Awan, Jehangir Badr, Misbahur Rehman, Khalid Kharral and Mushtaq Awan are pronounced in party circles as probable candidates for the Punjab governorship. Among these, Zaka Ashraf, Nawab Salahuddin Abbasi and Senator Latif Khosa are said to be much ahead of their competitors in the race due to various reasons. Zaka Ashraf is stated to be a very close friend of party chief Asif Ali Zardari, and the latter proved this perception when he (Zardari) himself went to the residence of Zaka Ashraf in Lahore to see him during his first visit to the City just before February 18 polls. The family of Nawab Salahuddin Abbasi, a grandson of Nawab of Bahawalpur, Nawab Sadiq Abbasi, and son of former Punjab governor, Nawab Muhammad Abbas Khan Abbasi, has a long association with Bhutto family. Nawab Abbas Abbasi and Z.A Bhutto were fast friends, as Bhutto used to visit Nawab Sahib very often. Salahuddin also enjoyed confidence of late Benazir Bhutto, who had authorised him to award party tickets in Bahawalpur division to candidates of his choice for February 18 elections. Majority of his nominees won the election. Sardar Latif Khosa is also a strong contender for the prestigious slot. Benazir Bhutto appointed him head of party's election monitoring cell, as he worked very close to her since her return to the country. He is also said to be in the good books of Asif Ali Zardari. Out of these eight contenders, party secretary general Jehangir Badr, Khalid Kharral and Mushtaq Awan lost February 18 election by a wide margin, and now they are waiting in the wings to be accommodated somewhere in the government. Obviously, Punjab governorship remains their first choice. At one stage, party also considered Dr. Babar Awan to be appointed as Punjab governor, but his name was dropped after the PML-N leadership expressed certain reservations over his nomination. He is mostly likely to end up as Attorney General of Pakistan, but even here, he will have to undergo a tough competition with Latif Khosa if the latter is not considered for governorship. Mian Misbahur Rehman has also a fair chance of becoming Punjab governor, but the graduation clause may hamper his elevation to the said office. He is not a graduate. As per constitutional provision, both the president and the governor must qualify to become an MNA. But it is most likely that graduation condition for election to MNA and MPA, may end any time in the near future as a result of expected court decision and the subsequent act of the parliament.