LAHORE - The PPP has finalised the names of Ch Aitzaz Ahsan and Dr Babar Awan as party candidates for the upcoming Senate polls from Punjab.

The PPP’s Parliamentary Board headed by Faryal Talpur short-listed the candidates on Saturday and sent its recommendations to the party Co-Chairmen. As per party sources, names of Ch Aitzaz and Babar Awan are almost final, while a decision about other candidates would be taken shortly.

Seven general seats of Senate from Punjab would become vacant in March this year and PPP can win two of these on the basis of its own strength in Punjab Assembly. A third one can also be had but after seat adjustment with the PML-Q.

The PPP wants to have third general seat in exchange for its support to PML-Q on a seat of technocrat. Three strong candidates are in the race to capture the third seat. They include: Qasim Zia, Syed Asif Hashmi and Dr Basit Riaz Sheikh. The latter is son of President Zardari’s close aide Ahmad Riaz Sheikh and chances of his getting party ticket are bright.

The PPP can win one Senate seat reserved for women after making seat adjustment with the PML-Q. Until a few days back, the name of Shabina Riaz Sheikh, former member Punjab Assembly, was almost final, but she is likely to withdraw her candidature for political reasons. Now, the party will have to look for some other suitable candidate from amongst its women activists to secure this seat. Bushra Malik, Shahida Jabeen, Shaista Khalid Jaan and Mrs Munawar Anjum are among the contestants, but some ‘dark horse’ may grab this seat.

The PPP will have to give one seat of technocrat to the PML-Q in Punjab in exchange for a reserved seat for women. None of the two parties is in a position to win any of the reserved seats without mutual cooperation.

 The prominent among those who have applied for Senate tickets from Punjab include: Ch Aitzaz Ahsan, Babar Awan, Qasim Zia, Rana Aftab, Akbar Khawaja, Riffat Daha, Ch Munawar Anjum, Aurangzeb Burki, Zafar Ch and Khurrum Latif Khosa. Of these, Akbar Khawaja and Zafar Ch have already served as Senator. The party secretariat has received over total of 60 applications from Punjab against four Senate seats which the PPP is most likely to secure from the province on the basis of its strengthen in Punjab Assembly.

Meanwhile, PPP is having negotiations with all political parties including the PML-N to get all the Senators elected unopposed to avoid horse trading. It may be noted here that all candidates were elected unopposed in the last Senate polls held in 2009 as a result of consensus decision by all political parties.