LAHORE (ASHRAF MUMTAZ ) - Senior PPP leaders Begum Abida Hussain and her spouse Syed Fakhr Imam are likely to contest the next election as independents.

The couple approached the PML-N leadership with the request that they should not put up any candidates against them to enable them to contest against their rivals. Begum Abida contests from NA-88 (Jhang) against Makhdoom Syed Faisal Hayat, while Syed Fakhr Imam is a candidate from NA-156 (Khanewal) against Raza Harraj.

Faisal and Harraj are in the PML-Q at present, a party which is a coalition partner in the PPP-led government at the Centre.

Both the parties have already agreed to contest the upcoming elections together and not put up candidates against each other. Under the formula agreed upon by the two, it is possible that Faisal and Harraj are adopted as candidates of the two parties, leaving Begum Abida and Fakhr Imam out of the race.

The couple has been in politics for decades and is determined to take part in the upcoming elections, regardless of any understanding between the PPP and the PML-Q. They took up the matter with President Zardari, who is also co-chairperson of the PPP.

According to knowledgeable sources, Mr Zardari has allowed them to approach the PML-N leadership for cooperation.

It is said that Abida Hussain and Fakhr Imam met with the Punjab chief minister with the request that the PML-N should not put up candidates against them. The chief minister is said to have promised that he would convey their request to Mian Nawaz Sharif. Begum Abida had been a minister in the cabinet of Mian Nawaz Sharif. She also served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States.

Sources close to the couple say that Abida and Fakhr Imam would remain in the PPP even if the PML-N extends them cooperation in the elections.