ISLAMABAD - While Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) might continue to dominate in Senate after the upcoming Senate elections, the party has started searching suitable candidates to fill the slots of both chairman and deputy chairman of the upper house.

As 21 PPP’s senators will complete their tenure by March 11, both Nayyar Bokhari, Chairman Senate and his deputy Sabir Baloch will also retire from the Upper House.

PPP bigwigs have started contemplating different names for the slot of Chairman Senate as former interior minister Rehman Malik is likely to clinch this position with the consent of party’s Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, background interactions and discussion with PPP’s leaders left this impression.

The party has almost decided to award tickets to some of existing Senators, including Rehman Malik and Jhangir Badar, who are retiring as Senator on March 11.

Sources said that the party is also considering the name of Manzor Watto to award him ticket from Punjab with some special responsibilities. “Both Manzor Watto and Qamar Zaman Kaira are in the race to take seat in the Upper House in upcoming elections,” they added.

When contacted, Senator Minister Rehman Malik confirmed that he would contest for the next election. “It is not confirmed that the party is choosing me for the slot of chairman,” said Malik, adding that he would respect the decision of his party.

Some 21 PPP senators are retiring while most of the members from Sindh will once again emerge as majority for next six years. The party is expected to retain almost all the seats from Sindh province due to its majority in the provincial assembly. Currently, eight are from Sindh, five from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, three each from Punjab and Balochistan and two from Islamabad.

Talking to The Nation, PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar said that party has asked for applications from candidates desirous to contest Senate elections by January 30, 2015. “Most of the members will be from Sindh... Candidates have also started submitting applications,” said Babar.

Secretary General Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has asked the candidates to send their applications to PPP President Makhdoom Amin Fahim for the Senate elections.

The PPP is presently the single largest party in the 104-member upper house. The PPP senators who are retiring in March are Jahangir Badar, Kazim Khan and Sughra Imam from Punjab, Rehman Malik , Farooq Naek, Salim Mandviwala, Islamuddin Sheikh, Maula Bux Chandio, Abdul Qayyum Soomro, Gul Muhammad Lot and Almas Perveen from Sindh, Gulzar Ahmed Khan, Waqar Ahmed Khan, Sardar Ali Khan, Adnan Khan and Farhat Abbas from KP, Sabir Baloch, Mir Yousuf Badini and Surriya Amiruddin from Balochistan and Nayyar Bokhari and Dr Saeeda Iqbal from the federal capital.

Among the 52 senators retiring in March, 21 from PPP, eight from the PML-N, six from the ANP, three each from the MQM and the JUI-F, two from the BNP-A and one each from the PML-Q, PkMAP and the National Party (NP).

Shahab resigns as PPP South Punjab chief

INP adds: Senior PPP leader Makhdoom Shahabuddin has resigned from his post as PPP South Punjab President due to health issues. The PPP leader has sent his resignation to PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari.

According to sources, Makhdoom Shahabuddin had recently undergone an operation due to which he had decided to resign from the party office. However, the former federal minister will continue to serve the party as Executive Committee member, the sources claimed.

Shahab was health minister during the last PPP government at the Centre and is facing a case of corruption regarding Ephedrine licences.